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THE greater portion of the Eepublic was previously translated 
by Francis Barham, Esq., and published in 1841. Although ably 
performed, it was not sufficiently close for the purpose of the 
" CLASSICAL, LIBRARY," and was therefore placed in the hands of 
the present editor for revision, as well as for collation with recent 
texts. This has occasioned material alterations and additions. 

The treatise " On the Nature of the Gods" is a revision of that 
usually ascribed to the celebrated Benjamin Franklin. 


Tusculan Disputations 7 

On the Nature of the Gods 209 

On the Commonwealth 357 



IN the year A.U.C. 708, and the sixty- second year of 
Cicero's age, his daughter, Tullia, died in childbed ; and 
her loss afflicted Cicero to such a degree that he aban 
doned all public business, and, leaving the city, retired to 
Asterra, which was a country house that he had near An- 
tiura ; where, after a while, he devoted himself to philo 
sophical studies, and, besides other works, he published 
his Treatise de Finibus, and also this treatise called the 
Tusculan Disputations, of which Middleton gives this con 
cise description : 

" The first book teaches us how to contemn the terrors 
of death, and to look upon it as a blessing rather than an 
evil : 

" The second, to support pain and affliction with a man 
ly fortitude; 

" The third, to appease all our complaints and uneasi 
nesses under the accidents of life* 

" The fourth, to moderate all our other passions ; 

"And the fifth explains the sufficiency of virtue to make 
men happy." 

It was his custom in the opportunities of his leisure to 
take some friends with him into the country, where, in 
stead of amusing themselves with idle sports or feasts, 
their diversions were wholly speculative, tending to im 
prove the mind and enlarge the understanding. In this 
manner he now spent five days at his Tusculan villa in dis 
cussing with his friends the several questions just men 
tioned. For, after employing the mornings in declaiming 
and rhetorical exercises, they used to retire in the after- 


noon into a gallery, called the Academy, Avhich he had 
built for the purpose of philosophical conferences, where, 
after the manner of the Greeks, he held a school, as they 
called it, and invited the company to call for any subject 
that they desired to hear explained, which being proposed 
accordingly by some of the audience became immediately 
the argument of that day's debate. These five conferences, 
or dialogues, he collected afterward into writing in the 
very words and manner in which they really passed ; and 
published them under the title of his Tusculan Disputa 
tions, from the name of the villa in which they were held. 



I. AT a time when I had entirely, or to a great degree, 
released myself from my labors as an advocate, and from 
my duties as a senator, I had recourse again, Brutus, prin 
cipally by your advice, to those studies which never had 
been out of my mind, although neglected at times, and 
which after a long interval I resumed ; and now, since the 
principles and rules of all arts which relate to living well 
depend on the study of wisdom, which is called philoso 
phy, I have thought it an employment worthy of me to il 
lustrate them in the Latin tongue, not because philosophy 
could not be understood in the Greek language, or by the 
teaching of Greek masters; but it has always been my 
opinion that our countrymen have, in some instances, made 
wiser discoveries than the Greeks, with reference to those 
subjects which they have considered worthy of devoting 
their attention to, and in others have improved upon their 
discoveries, so that in one way or other we surpass them 
on every point ; for, with regard to the manners and hab 
its of private life, and family and domestic affairs, we cer 
tainly manage them with more elegance, and better than 
they did ; and as to our republic, that our ancestors have, 
beyond all dispute, formed on better customs and laws. 
What shall I say of our military affairs ; in which our an 
cestors have been most eminent in valor, and still more so 


in discipline? As to those things which are attained not 
by study, but nature, neither Greece, nor any nation, is 
comparable to us ; for what people has displayed such 
gravity, such steadiness, such greatness of soul, probity, 
faith such distinguished virtue of every kind, as to be 
equal to our ancestors. In learning, indeed, and all kinds 
of literature, Greece did excel us, and it was easy to do 
so where there was no competition ; for while among the 
Greeks the poets were the most ancient species of learned 
men since Homer and Hesiod lived before the founda 
tion of Rome, and Archilochus 1 was a contemporary of 
Romulus we received poetry much later. For it was 
about five hundred and ten years after the building of 
Rome before Living" published a play in the consulship of 
C. Claudius, the son of Caucus, and M. Tuditanus, a year 
before the birth of Ennius, who was older than Plautus 
and Najvius. 

II. It was, therefore, late before poets were cither known 
or received among us ; though we find in Cato de Origini- 
bus that the guests used, at their entertainments, to sing 
the praises of famous men to the sound of the flute ; but 
a speech of Gate's shows this kind of poetry to have been 
in no great esteem, as he censures Marcus Nobilior for 
carrying poets with him into his province; for that con 
sul, as we know, carried Ennius with him into ^Etolia. 
Therefore the less esteem poets were in, the less were 

1 Archilochus was a native of Paros, and flourished about 714-C7G 
B.C. His poems were chiefly Iambics of bitter satire. Horace speaks 
of him as the inventor of Iambics, and calls himself his pupil. 

Parios ego prirnns lambos 
Ostendi Latio, numeros animosqne eecatns 
Archilochi, nou res et agentia verba Lycamben. 

Epist. I. six. 25. 

And in another place he says, 

Archilochuni proprio rabies armnvit lambo. A. P. 74. 

* This was Livius Andronicus : he is supposed to have been a native 
of Tarentum, and he was made prisoner by the Romans, during their 
wars in Southern Italy; owing to which he became the slave of M. 
Livius Salinator. He wrote both comedies and tragedies, of which Cic 
ero (Brutus 18) speaks very contemptuously, as ''Livianoe fabula? non 
sutis (lignse quae itcrum legantur" not worth reading a second time. 
He also wrote a Latin Odyssey, and some hymns, and died probably 
about 221 u.c. 



those studies pursued ; though even then those who did 
display the greatest abilities that way were not very in 
ferior to the Greeks. Do we imagine that if it had been 
considered commendable in Fabius, 1 a man of the highest 
rank, to paint, we should not have had many Polycleti and 
Parrhasii? Honor nourishes art, and glory is the spur 
with all to studies; while those studies are always neg 
lected in every nation which are looked upon disparaging 
ly. The Greeks held skill in vocal and instrumental mu 
sic as a very important accomplishment, and therefore it 
is recorded of Epaminondas, who, in my opinion, was the 
greatest man among the Greeks, that he played excellent 
ly on the flute ; and Themistocles, some years before, was 
deemed ignorant because at an entertainment he declined 
the lyre when it was offered to him. For this reason mu 
sicians flourished in Greece; music was a general study ; 
and whoever was unacquainted with it was not considered 
as fully instructed in learning. Geometry was in high es 
teem with them, therefore none were more honorable thai) 
mathematicians. But we have confined this art to bare 
measuring and calculating. 

III. But, on the contrary, we early entertained an esteem 
for the orator; though he was not at first a man of learn 
ing, but only quick at speaking : in subsequent times he 
became learned; for it is reported that Galba, Africanus, 
and Latins were men of learning; and that even Cato, 
who preceded them in point of time, was a studious man : 
then succeeded the Lepidi, Carbo, and Gracchi, and so 
many great orators after them, down to our own times, 
that w r e were very little, if at all, inferior to the Greeks. 
Philosophy has been at a low ebb even to this present 
time, and has had no assistance from our own language, 
and so now I have undertaken to raise and illustrate it, in 
order that, as I have been of service to my countrymen, 
when employed on public affairs, I may, if possible, be so 
likewise in my retirement; and in this I must take the 
more pains, because there are already many books in the 

1 C. Fabius, surnamed Pictor, painted the temple of Salus, which the 
dictator C. Junius Brutus Bubulus dedicated 302 B.C. The temple was 
destroyed by fire in the reign of Claudius. The painting is highly 
]irai<p(l by Dionysiux, 


Latin language which are said to be written inaccurately, 
having been composed by excellent men, only not of suffi 
cient learning ; for, indeed, it is possible that a man may 
think well, and yet not be able to express his thoughts 
elegantly ; but for any one to publish thoughts which he 
can neither arrange skilfully nor illustrate so as to enter 
tain his reader, is an unpardonable abuse of letters and 
retirement : they, therefore, read their books to one an 
other, and no one ever takes them up but those who wisli 
to have the same license for careless writing allowed to 
themselves. Wherefore, if oratory has acquired any rep 
utation from my industry, I shall take the more pains to 
open the fountains of philosophy, from which all my elo 
quence has taken its rise. 

IV. But, as Aristotle, 1 a man of the greatest genius, and 
of the most various knowledge, being excited by the glory 
of the rhetorician Isocrates, 2 commenced teaching young 
men to speak, and joined philosophy with eloquence: so 
it is my design not to lay aside my former study of ora 
tory, and yet to employ myself at the same time in this 
greater and more fruitful art ; for I have always thought 
that to be able to speak copiously and elegantly on the 
most important questions was the most perfect philoso 
phy. And I have so diligently applied myself to this pur 
suit, that I have already ventured to have a school like the 
Greeks. And lately when you left us, having many of my 
friends about me, I attempted at my Tusculan villa what 
I could do in that way ; for as I formerly used to practise 
declaiming, which nobody continued longer than myself, 
so this is now to be the declamation of my old age. I de 
sired any one to propose a question which lie wished to 
have discussed, and then I argued that point either sit 
ting or walking; and so I have compiled the seholre, as the 
Greeks call them, of five days, in as many books. We pro 
ceeded in this manner: when he who had proposed the 
subject for discussion had said what he thought proper, I 

1 For an account of the ancient Greek philosophers, see the sketch at 
the end of the Disputations. 

2 Isocrates was born at Athens 43G B.C. He was a pupil of Gorgias, 
Prodicus, and Socrates. He opened a school of rhetoric, at Athens, with 
great success. He died by his own hand at the age of ninety-eight. 


spoke against him ; for this is, you know, the old and So- 
cratic method of arguing against another's opinion ; for 
Socrates thought that thus the truth would more easily be 
arrived at. But to give you a better notion of our dispu 
tations, I will not barely send you an account of them, but 
represent them to you as they were carried on ; therefore 
let the introduction be thus : 

V. A. To me death seems to be an evil. 

M. What, to those who are already dead ? or to those 
who must die? 

A. To both. 

M. It is a misery, then, because an evil ? 

A. Certainly. 

M. Then those who have already died, and those who 
have still got to die, are both miserable ? 

A. So it appears to me. 

M. Then all are miserable ? 

A. Every one. 

M. And, indeed, if you wish to be consistent, all that 
are already born, or ever shall be, are not only miserable, 
but always will be so; for should you maintain those only 
to be miserable, you would not except any one living, for 
all must die ; but there should be an end of misery in 
death. But seeing that the dead are miserable, we are 
born to eternal misery, for they must of consequence be 
miserable who died a hundred thousand years ago ; or 
rather, all that have ever been born. 

A. So, indeed, I think. 

M. Tell me, I beseech you, are you afraid of the three- 
headed Cerberus in the shades below, and the roaring 
waves of Cocytus, and the passage over Acheron, ami 
Tantalus expiring with thirst, while the water touches his 
chin ; and Sisyphus, 

Who sweats with arduous toil in vain 
The steepy summit of the mount to gain ? 

Perhaps, too, you dread the inexorable judges, Minos and 
Ilhadamanthus; before whom neither L. Crassus nor M. 
Antonius can defend you; and where, since the cause lies 
before Grecian judges, you will not even be able to employ 
Demosthenes; but you must plead for yourself before a 


very great assembly. These things perhaps you dread, 
and therefore look on death as an eternal evil. 

VI. A. Do you take me to be so imbecile as to give 
credit to such things? 

M. What, do you not believe them ? 

A. Not in the least. 

M. I am sorry to hear that. 

A. Why, I beg? 

M. Because I could have been very eloquent in speak 
ing against them. 

A. And who could not on such a subject? or what 
trouble is it to refute these monstrous inventions of the 
poets and painters ?' 

M. And yet you have books of philosophers full of ar 
guments against these. 

A. A great waste of time, truly ! for who is so weak 
as to be concerned about them ? 

M. If, then, there is no one miserable in the infernal 
regions, there can be no one there at all. 

A. I am altogether of that opinion. 

M. Where, then, are those you call miserable? or what 
place do they inhabit ? For, if they exist at all, they must 
be somewhere. 

A. I, indeed, am of opinion that they are nowhere. 

M. Then they have no existence at all. 

A. Even so, and yet they arc miserable for this very 
reason, that they have no existence. 

M. I had rather now have you afraid of Cerberus than 
speak thus inaccurately. 

A. In what respect? 

M. Because you admit him to exist whose existence 
you deny with the same breath. Where now is your 
sagacity ? When you say any one is miserable, you say 
that he who does not exist, does exist. 

A. I am not so absurd as to say that. 

1 So Horace joins these two classes as inventors of all kinds of improb 
able fictions : 

Pictoribus ntqne poetis 
Quidlibet nndendi semper fuit lequa potestas. A. P. 9. 

Which Roscommon translates : 

Painters and poets have been still nllow'd 
Their pencil and their fancies uncouflned. 


M. What is it that you do say, then ? 

A. I say, for instance, that Marcus Crassus is miserable 
in being deprived of sucli great riches as his by death ; 
that Cn. Poinpey is miserable in being taken from such 
glory and honor ; and, in short, that all are miserable who 
are deprived of this light of life. 

M. You have returned to the same point, for to be mis 
erable implies an existence; but you just now denied that 
the dead had any existence: if, then, they have not, they 
can be nothing ; and if so, they are not even miserable. 

A. Perhaps I do not express what I mean, for I look 
upon this very circumstance, not to exist after having ex 
isted, to be very miserable. 

M. What, more so than not to have existed at all? 
Therefore, those who are not yet born are miserable be 
cause they are not ; and we ourselves, if we are to be mis 
erable after death, were miserable before we were born : 
but I do not remember that I was miserable before I was 
born ; and I should be glad to know, if your memory is 
better, what you recollect of yourself before you were 

VII. A. You are pleasant : as if I had said that those 
men are miserable who are not born, and not that they are 
so who are dead. 

M. You say, then, that they are so ? 

A. Yes ; I say that because they no longer exist after 
having existed they are miserable. 

M. You do not perceive that you arc asserting contra 
dictions ; for what is a greater contradiction, than that 
that should be not only miserable, but should have any 
existence at all, which does not exist? When you go out 
at the Capene gate and see the tombs of the Calatini, the 
Scipios, Servilii, and Metelli, do you look on them as mis 
erable ? 

A. Because you press me with a word, henceforward I 
will not say they arc miserable absolutely, but miserable 
on this account, because they have no existence. 

M. You do not say, then, " M. Crassus is miserable," 
but only " Miserable M. Crassus." 

A. Exactly so. 

M. As if it did not follow that whatever you speak of 


in that manner either is or is not. Are you not acquaint 
ed with the first principles of logic ? For this is the first 
thing they lay down, Whatever is asserted (for that is the 
best way that occurs to me, at the moment, of rendering 
the Greek term d&wpa ; if I can think of a more accurate 
expression hereafter, I will use it), is asserted as being ei 
ther true or false. When, therefore, you say, " Miserable 
M. Crassus," you either say this, " M. Crassus is misera 
ble," so that some judgment may be made whether it is 
true or false, or you say nothing at all. 

A. Well, then, I now own that the dead are not miser 
able, since you have drawn from me a concession that 
they who do not exist at all can not be miserable. What 
then? We that are alive, are we not wretched, seeing we 
must die ? for what is there agreeable in life, when we 
must night and day reflect that, at some time or other, we 
must die? 

VIII. M. Do you not, then, perceive how great is the 
evil from which you have delivered human nature? 

A. By what means? 

M. Because, if to die were miserable to the dead, to live 
would be a kind of infinite and eternal misery. Now, 
however, I see a goal, and when I have reached it, there is 
nothing more to be feared ; but you seem to me to follow 
the opinion of Epicharmus, 1 a man of some discernment, 
and sharp enough for a Sicilian. 

A. What opinion ? for I do not recollect it. 

M. I will tell you if I can in Latin ; for you know I am 
no more used to bring in Latin sentences in a Greek dis 
course than Greek in a Latin one. 

A. And that is right enough. But what is that opinion 
of Epicharmus? 

J^f, I would not die, but yet 

Am not concerned that I shall be dead. 

A. I now recollect the Greek; but since you have 

1 Epicharmns was a native of Cos, but lived at Megara, in Sicily, and 
when Megara was destroyed, removed to Syracuse, and lived nt the court 
of Hiero, where lie became the first writer of comedies, so that Horace 
ascribes the invention of comedy to him, and so does Theocritus. He 
lived to a great age. 


obliged me to grant that the dead are not miserable, pro 
ceed to convince me that it is not miserable to be under a 
necessity of dying. 

M. That is easy enough ; but I have greater things in 

A. How comes that to be so easy ? And what are those 
things of more consequence? 

M. Thus : because, if there is no evil after death, then 
even death itself can be none; for that which immediately 
succeeds that is a state where you grant that there is no 
evil : so that even to be obliged to die can be no evil, for 
that is only the being obliged to arrive at a place where 
we allow that no evil is. 

A. I beg you will be more explicit on this point, for 
these subtle arguments force me sooner to admissions than 
to conviction. But what are those more important things 
about which you say that you are occupied ? 

M. To teach you, if I can, that death is not only no 
evil, but a good. 

A, I do not insist on that, but should be glad to hear 
you argue it, for even though you should not prove your 
point, yet you will prove that death is no evil. But I will 
not interrupt you ; I would rather hear a continued dis 

M. What, if I should ask you a question, would you not 

A. That would look like pride ; but I would rather you 
should not ask but where necessity requires. 

IX. M, I will comply with your wishes, and explain as 
well as I can what you require; but not with any idea 
that, like the Pythian Apollo, what I say must needs be 
certain and indisputable, but as a mere man, endeavoring 
to arrive at probabilities by conjecture, for I have no 
ground to proceed further on than probability. Those 
men may call their statements indisputable who assert that 
what they say can be perceived by the senses, and who 
proclaim themselves philosophers by profession. 

A. Do as you please : we are ready to hear you. 

M. The first thing, then, is to inquire what death, which 
seems to be so well understood, really is; for some imag 
ine death to be the departure of the soul from the body ; 


others think that there is no such departure, but that soul 
and body perish together, and that the soul is extinguished 
with the body. Of those who think that the soul does de 
part from the body, some believe in its immediate disso 
lution ; others fancy that it continues to exist for a time ; 
and others believe that it lasts forever. There is great 
dispute even what the soul is, where it is, and whence it 
is derived : with some, the heart itself (cor) seems to be 
the soul, hence the expressions, excorcles, vecordes, con- 
cordes ; and that prudent Kasica, who was twice consul, 
was called Corculus, i.e., wise-heart; and ^lius Sextus is 
described as Egregie cordatus homo, catus ^EUv? Sextus 
that great wise-hearted man, sage ^lius. Empedocles 
imagines the blood, which is suffused over the heart, to 
be the soul ; to others, a certain part of the brain seems 
to be the throne of the soul ; others neither allow the heart 
itself, nor any portion of the brain, to be the soul, but 
think either that the heart is the seat and abode of the 
soul, or else that the brain is so. Some would have the 
soul, or spirit, to be the anima, as our schools generally 
agree; and indeed the name signifies as much, for we use 
the expressions animam agere, to live ; animam efflare, to 
expire ; animosi, men of spirit ; bene animati, men of right 
feeling ; exanimi sententia, according to our real opinion ; 
and the very word animus is derived from anima. Again, 
the soul seems to Zeno the Stoic to be fire. 

X. But what I have said as to the heart, the blood, the 
brain, air, or fire being the soul, are common opinions : the 
others are only entertained by individuals; and, indeed, 
there were many among the ancients who held singular 
opinions on this subject, of whom the latest was Aristoxe- 
nus, a man who was both a musician and a philosopher. 
He maintained a certain straining of the body, like what is 
called harmony in music, to be the soul, and believed that, 
from the figure and nature of the whole body, various mo 
tions are excited, as sounds are from an instrument. He 
adhered steadily to his system, and yet he said something, 
the nature of which, whatever it was, had been detailed 
and explained a great while before by Plato. Xenocrates 
denied that the soul had any figure, or anything like a 
body ; but said it was a number, the power of which, as 


Pythagoras had fancied, some ages before, was the great 
est in nature: his master, Plato, imagined a threefold soul, 
a dominant portion of which that is to say, reason he had 
lodged in the head, as in a tower ; and the other two parts 
namely, anger and desire he made subservient to this 
one, and allotted them distinct abodes, placing anger in the 
breast, and desire under the prrccordia. But Dicaearchus, 
in that discourse of some learned disputants, held at Cor 
inth, which he details to us in three books in the first 
book introduces many speakers; and in the other two he 
introduces a certain Pherecrates, an old man of Phthia, 
who, as he said, was descended from Deucalion ; asserting, 
that there is in fact no such thing at all as a soul, but 
that it is a name without a meaning ; and that it is idle to 
use the expression "animals," or "animated beings;" that 
neither men nor beasts have minds or souls, but that all 
that power by which we act or perceive is equally infused 
into every living creature, and is inseparable from the body, 
for if it were not, it would be nothing ; nor is there any 
thing whatever really existing except body, which is a 
single and simple thing, so fashioned as to live and have 
its sensations in consequence of the regulations of nature. 
Aristotle, a man superior to all others, both in genius and 
industry (I always except Plato), after having embraced 
these four known sorts of principles, from which all things 
deduce their origin, imagines that there is a certain fifth 
nature, from whence conies the soul ; for to think, to fore 
see, to learn, to teach, to invent anything, and many other 
attributes of the same kind, such as to remember, to love, 
to hate, to desire, to fear, to be pleased or displeased 
these, and others like them, exist, he thinks, in none of 
those first four kinds: on such account he adds a fifth 
kind, which has no name, and so by a new name he calls 
the soul ii'ceXl^fta, as if it were a certain continued and 
perpetual motion. 

XI. If I have not forgotten anything unintentionally, 
these are the principal opinions concerning the soul. I 
have omitted Democritus, a very great man indeed, but 
one who deduces the soul from the fortuitous concourse 
of small, light, and round substances ; for, if you believe 
men of his school, there is nothing which a crowd of atoms 


cannot effect. Which of these opinions is true, some God 
must determine. It is an important question for us, Which 
has the most appearance of truth ? Shall we, then, prefer 
determining between them, or shall we return to our sub 

A. I could wish both, if possible; but it is difficult to 
mix them : therefore, if without a discussion of them we 
can get rid of the fears of death, let us proceed to do so ; 
but if this is not to be done without explaining the ques 
tion about souls, let us have that now, and the other at an 
other time. 

M. I take that plan to be the best, which I perceive you 
are inclined to ; for reason will demonstrate that, which 
ever of the opinions which I have stated is true, it must 
follow, then, that death cannot be an evil ; or that it must 
rather be something desirable ; for if either the heart, or 
the blood, or the brain, is the soul, then certainly the soul, 
being corporeal, must perish with the rest of the body ; 
if it is air, it will perhaps be dissolved ; if it is fire, it will 
be extinguished ; if it is Aristoxentis's harmony, it will be 
put out of tune. What shall I say of Dicaearchus, who 
denies that there is any soul ? In all these opinions, there 
is nothing to affect any one after death ; for all feeling is 
lost with life, and where there is no sensation, nothing can 
interfere to affect us. The opinions of others do indeed 
bring us hope ; if it is any pleasure to you to think that 
souls, after they leave the body, may go to heaven as to 
a permanent home. 

A. I have great pleasure in that thought, and it is what 
I most desire ; and even if it should not be so, I should 
still be very willing to believe it. 

M. What occasion have you, then, for my assistance ? 
Am I superior to Plato in eloquence? Turn over care 
fully his book that treats of the soul; you will have there 
all that you can want. 

A. I have, indeed, done that, and often ; but, I know 
not how it comes to pass, I agree with it while I am read 
ing it ; but when I have laid down the book, and begin to 
reflect with myself on the immortality of the soul, all that 
agreement vanishes. 

M. How comes that? Do you admit this that souls 


either exist after death, or else that they also perish at the 
moment of death ? 

A. I agree to that. And if they do exist, I admit that 
they are happy ; but if they perish, I cannot suppose them 
to be unhappy, because, in fact, they have no existence at 
all. You drove me to that concession but just now. 

M. How, then, can you, or why do you, assert that you 
think that death is an evil, when it either makes us happy, 
in the case of the soul continuing to exist, or, at all events, 
not unhappy, in the case of our becoming destitute of all 
sensation ? 

XII. A. Explain, therefore, if it is not troublesome to 
you, first, if you can, that souls do exist after death ; sec 
ondly, should you fail in that (and it is a very difficult 
thing to establish), that death is free from all evil; for I 
am not without my fears that this itself is an evil: I do 
not mean the immediate deprivation of sense, but the fact 
that we shall hereafter suffer deprivation. 

M. I have the best authority in support of the opinion 
you desire to have established, which ought, and generally 
has, great weight in all cases. And, first, I have all an 
tiquity on that side, which the more near it is to its origin 
and divine descent, the more clearly, perhaps, on that ac 
count, did it discern the truth in these matters. This very 
doctrine, then, was adopted by all those ancients whom 
Ennius calls in the Sabine tongue Casci ; namely, that in 
death there was a sensation, and that, when men departed 
this life, they were not so entirely destroyed as to perish 
absolutely. And this may appear from many other cir 
cumstances, and especially from the pontifical rites and 
funeral obsequies, which men of the greatest genius would 
not have been so solicitous about, and would not have 
guarded from any injury by such severe laws, but from a 
firm persuasion that death was not so entire a destruction 
as wholly to abolish and destroy everything, but rather a 
kind of transmigration, as it were, and change of life, which 
was, in the case of illustrious men and women, usually a 
guide to heaven, while in that of others it was still con 
fined to the earth, but in such a manner as still to exist. 
From this, and the sentiments of the Romans, 

In heaven Romulus with Gods now lives, 


as Ennuis saith, agreeing with the common belief; hence, 
too, Hercules is considered so great and propitious a God 
among the Greeks, and from them he was introduced 
among us, and his worship has extended even to the very 
ocean itself. This is how it was that Bacchus was dei 
fied, the offspring of Semele ; and from the same illustri 
ous fame we receive Castor and Pollux as Gods, who are 
reported not only to have helped the Romans to victory 
in their battles, but to have been the messengers of their 
success. What shall we say of Ino, the daughter of Cad 
mus? Is she not called Leucothea by the Greeks, and 
Matuta by us ? Nay, more ; is not the whole of heaven 
(not to dwell on particulars) almost filled with the off 
spring of men ? 

Should I attempt to search into antiquity, and produce 
from thence what the Greek writers have asserted, it 
would appear that even those who are called their princi 
pal Gods were taken from among men up into heaven. 

XIII. Examine the sepulchres of those which are shown 
in Greece ; recollect, for you have been initiated, what les 
sons are taught in the mysteries; then will you perceive 
how extensive this doctrine is. But they who were not 
acquainted with natural philosophy (for it did not begin 
to be in vogue till many years later) had no higher belief 
than what natural reason could give them; they were not 
acquainted with the principles and causes of things ; they 
were often induced by certain visions, and those general 
ly in the night, to think that those men who had departed 
from this life were still alive. And this may further be 
brought as an irrefragable argument for us to believe that 
there are Gods that there never was any nation so barbar 
ous, nor any people in the world so savage, as to be with 
out some notion of Gods. Many have wrong notions of 
the Gods, for that is the nature and ordinary consequence 
of bad customs, yet all allow that there is a certain divine 
nature and energy. Nor does this proceed from the con 
versation of men, or the agreement of philosophers; it is 
not an opinion established by institutions or by laws ; but, 
no doubt, in every case the consent of all nations is to be 
looked on as a law of nature. Who is there, then, that 
does not lament the loss of his friends, principally from 


imagining them deprived of the conveniences of life? 
Take :i\v;iy this opinion, and you remove with it all grief; 
for no one is afflicted merely on account of a loss sustained 
by himself. Perhaps we may be sorry, and grieve a little ; 
but that bitter lamentation and those mournful tears have 
their origin in our apprehensions that he whom we loved 
is deprived of all the advantages of life, and is sensible of 
his loss. And we are led to this opinion by nature, with 
out any arguments or any instruction. 

XIV. But the greatest proof of all is, that nature her 
self gives a silent judgment in favor of the immortality of 
the soul, inasmuch as all are anxious, and that to a great 
degree, about the things which concern futurity : 

One plants what future ages shall enjoy, 

as Statius saith in his Synephebi. What is his object in 
doing so, except that he is interested in posterity? Shall 
the industrious husbandman, then, plant trees the fruit of 
which he shall nevier see? And shall not the great man 
found laws, institutions, and a republic ? What does the 
procreation of children imply, and our care to continue 
our names, and our adoptions, and our scrupulous exact 
ness in drawing up wills, and the inscriptions on monu 
ments, and panegyrics, but that our thoughts run on futu 
rity? There is no doubt but a judgment may be formed 
of nature in general, from looking at each nature in its 
most perfect specimens; and what is a more perfect spec 
imen of a man than those are who look on themselves as 
born for the assistance, the protection, and the preserva 
tion of others ? Hercules has gone to heaven ; he never 
would have gone thither had he not, while among men, 
made that road for himself. These things are of old date, 
and have, besides, the sanction of universal religion. 

XV. What will you say? What do you imagine that 
so many and such great men of our republic, who have 
sacrificed their lives for its good, expected ? Do you be 
lieve that they thought that their names should not con 
tinue beyond their lives? None ever encountered death 
for their country but under a firm persuasion of immortal 
ity ! Themistocles might have lived at his ease ; so might 
Epaminondas; and, not to look abroad and among the an- 


cients for instances, so might I myself. But, somehow or 
other, there clings to our minds a certain presage of future 
ages; and this both exists most firmly, and appears most 
clearly, in men of the loftiest genius and greatest souls. 
Take away this, and who would be so mad as to spend his 
life amidst toils and dangers? I speak of those in power. 
What are the poet's views but to be ennobled after death ? 
What else is the object of these lines, 

Behold old Ennius here, who erst 
Thy fathers' great exploits rehearsed ? 

He is challenging the reAvard of glory from those men 
whose ancestors he himself had ennobled by his poetry. 
And in the same spirit he says, in another passage, 

Let none with tears my funeral grace, for I 
Claim from my works an immortality. 

Why do I mention poets? The very mechanics are de 
sirous of fame after death. Why did Phidias include a 
likeness of himself in the shield of Minerva, when he was 
not allowed to inscribe his name on it? What do our 
philosophers think on the subject? Do not they put their 
names to those very books which they write on the con 
tempt of glory ? If, then, universal consent is the voice 
of nature, and if it is the general opinion everywhere that 
those who have quitted this life are still interested in 
something, we also must subscribe to that opinion. And 
if we think that men of the greatest abilities and virtues 
see most clearly into the power of nature, because they 
themselves are her most perfect work, it is very probable 
that, as every great man is especially anxious to benefit 
posterity, there is something of which he himself will be 
sensible after death. 

XVI. But as we are led by nature to think there are 
Gods, and as we discover, by reason, of what description 
they are, so, by the consent of all nations, we are induced 
to believe that our souls survive; but where their habita 
tion is, and of what character they eventually are, must be 
learned from reason. The want of any certain reason on 
which to argue has given rise to the idea of the shades 
below, and to those fears which you seem, not without 


reason, to despise ; for as our bodies fall to the ground, 
and are covered with earth (humus), from whence we de 
rive the expression to be interred (httmctri), that has oc 
casioned men to imagine that the dead continue, during 
the remainder of their existence, under ground ; which 
opinion has drawn after it many errors, which the poets 
have increased; for the theatre, being frequented by a 
large crowd, among Avhich are women and children, is 
wont to be greatly affected on hearing such pompous 
verses as these, 

Lo! here I nm, who scarce could gain this place, 
Through stony mountains and a dreary waste ; 
Through cliff's, whose sharpen'd stones tremendous hung, 
Where dreadful darkness spread itself around. 

And the error prevailed so much, though indeed at pres 
ent it seems to me to be removed, that although men 
knew that the bodies of the dead had been burned, yet 
they conceived such things to be done in the infernal re 
gions as could not be executed or imagined without a 
body; for they could not conceive how disembodied souls 
could exist; and, therefore, they looked out for some shape 
or figure. This was the origin of all that account of the 
dead in Homer. This was the idea that caused my friend 
Appius to frame his Necromancy; and this is how there 
got about that idea of the lake of Avernus, in my neighbor 

From whence the souls of undistinguish'd shape, 
Clad in thick shade, rush from the open gate 
Of Acheron, vain phantoms of the dead. 

And they must needs have these appearances Speak, which 
is not possible without a tongue, and a palate, and jaws, 
and without the help of lungs and sides, and without some 
shape or figure ; for they could see nothing by their mind 
alone they referred all to their eyes. To withdraw the 
mind from sensual objects, and abstract our thoughts from 
what we are accustomed to, is an attribute of great gen 
ius. I am persuaded, indeed, that there were many such 
men in former ages ; but Pherecydes 1 the Syrian is the 

1 Pherecydes was a. native of Scyros, one of the Cyclades ; and is 
said to have obtained his knowledge from the secret books of the Plioe- 


first on record who said that the souls of men were im 
mortal, and he was a philosopher of great antiquity, in the 
reign of my namesake Tullius. His disciple Pythagoras 
greatly confirmed this opinion, who came into Italy in the 
reign of Tarquin the Proud ; and all that country which 
is called Great Greece was occupied by his school, and he 
himself was held in high honor, and had the greatest au 
thority ; and the Pythagorean sect was for many ages af 
ter in such great credit, that all learning was believed to 
be confined to that name. 

XVII. But I return to the ancients. They scarcely 
ever gave any reason for their opinion but what could be 
explained by numbers or definitions. It is reported of 
Plato that he came into Italy to make himself acquaint 
ed with the Pythagoreans ; and that when there, among 
others, he made an acquaintance with Archytas 1 and Ti- 
majus, 2 and learned from them all the tenets of the Py 
thagoreans ; and that he not only was of the same opinion 
with Pythagoras concerning the immortality of the soul, 
but that he also brought reasons in support of it ; which, 
if you have nothing to say against it, I will pass over, and 
say no more at present about all this hope of 'immortality. 

A. What, will you leave me when you have raised my 
expectations so high ? I had rather, so help me Hercules ! 
be mistaken with Plato, whom I know how much you es 
teem, and whom I admire myself, from what you say of 
him, than be in the right with those others. 

nicians. He is said also to have been a pupil of Pittacus, the rival of 
Thales, and the master of Pythagoras. His doctrine was that there were 
three principles (Zet'c, or JEther; XOwv, or Chaos; andXprivoe, or Time) 
and four elements (Fire, Earth, Air, and Water), from which everything 
that exists was formed. Vide Smith's Diet. Gr. and Rom. Biog. 

1 Archytas was a native of Tarentum, and is said to have saved the life 
of Plato by his influence with the tyrant Dionysius. He was especially 
great as a mathematician and geometrician, so that Horace calls him 

Maris et terrae nnmeroque carentis arenas 
Mensorem. Od. i. 28. 1. 

Plato is supposed to have learned some of his views from him, and 
Aristotle to have borrowed from him every idea of the Categories. 

2 This was not Timajus the historian, but a native of Locri, who is 
said also in the De Finibus (c. 29) to have been a teacher of Plato. 
There is a treatise extant bearing his name, which is, however, proba 
bly spurious, and only an abridgment of Plato's dialogue Timajus. 



M. I commend you ; for, indeed, I could myself willing 
ly be mistaken in his company. Do we, then, doubt, as 
we do in other cases (though I think here is very little 
room for doubt in this case, for the mathematicians prove 
the facts to us), that the earth is placed in the midst of 
the world, being, as it were, a sort of point, which they call 
a xivrpov, surrounded by the whole heavens; and that 
such is the nature of the four principles which are the 
generating causes of all things, that they have equally di 
vided among them the constituents of all bodies; more 
over, that earthy and humid bodies are carried at equal 
angles by their own weight and ponderosity into the 
earth and sea; that the other two parts consist, one of 
fire, and the other of air? As the two former are carried 
by their gravity and weight into the middle region of the 
world, so these, on the other hand, ascend by right lines 
into the celestial regions, either because, owing to their 
intrinsic nature, they are always endeavoring to reach the 
highest place, or else because lighter bodies are naturally 
repelled by heavier ; and as this is notoriously the case, 
it must evidently follow that souls, when once they have 
departed from the body, whether they are animal (by 
which term I mean capable of breathing) or of the nature 
of fire, must mount upward. But if the soul is some 
number, as some people assert, speaking with more sub 
tlety than clearness, or if it is that fifth nature, for which 
it .would be more correct to say that we have not given a 
name to than that we do not correctly understand it still 
it is too pure and perfect not to go to a great distance from 
the earth. Something of this sort, then, we must believe 
the soul to be, that we may not commit the folly of think 
ing that so active a principle lies immeuged in the heart 
or brain ; or, as Empedocles would have it, in the blood. 

XVIII. We will pass over DicaBarchus, 1 with his con 
temporary and fellow-disciple Aristoxenus," both indeed 

1 Dicaearchus was a native of Messana, in Sicily, though he lived chief 
ly in Greece. He was one of the later disciples of Aristotle. He was u 
great geographer, politician, historian, and philosopher, and died about 
US."> B.C. 

a Aristoxenus was a native of Tarentum, and also n pupil of Aristo 
tle. We know nothing of his opinions except that he held the soul to 


men of lenrning. One of them seems never even to have 
been affected with grief, as he could not perceive that he 
had a soul ; while the other is so pleased with his musical 
compositions that he endeavors to show an analogy be 
twixt them and souls. Now, we may understand har 
mony to arise from the intervals of sounds, whose various 
compositions occasion many harmonies ; but I do not see 
how a disposition of members, and the figure of a body 
without a soul, can occasion harmony. He had better, 
learned as he is, leave these speculations to his master 
Aristotle, and follow his own trade as a musician. Good 
advice is given him in that Greek proverb,- 

Apply your talents where you best are skill'd. 

I will have nothing at all to do with that fortuitous con 
course of individual light and round bodies, notwithstand 
ing Democritus insists on their being warm and having 

o o ~ 

breath, that is to say, life. But this soul, which is com 
pounded of either of the four principles from which we 
assert that all things are derived, is of inflamed air, as 
seems particularly to have been the opinion of Pansetius, 
and must necessarily mount upward ; for air and fire have 
no tendency downward, but always ascend; so should 
they be dissipated that must be at some distance from 
the earth ; but should they remain, and preserve their 
oi-iginal state, it is clearer still that they must be carried 
heavenward, and this gross and concrete air, which is 
nearest the earth, must be divided and broken by them ; 
for the soul is warmer, or rather hotter, than that air, which 
I just now called gross and concrete: and this may be 
made evident from this consideration that our bodies, be 
ing compounded of the earthy class of principles, grow 
warm by the heat of the soul. 

XIX. We may add, that the soul can the more easily 
escape from this air, which I have often named, and break 

be a harmony of the body ; a doctrine which had been already discussed 
bv Plato in the Phrcdo, and combated by Aristotle. He was a great 
musician, and the chief portions of his works which have come down 
to us are fragments of some musical treatises. Smith's Diet. Gr. and 
IJom. Biog. ; to which source I must acknowledge my obligation for 
nearly the whole of these biographical notes. 


through it, because nothing is swifter than the soul; no 
swiftness is comparable to the swiftness of the soul, 
which, should it remain uncorrnpt and without alteration, 
must necessarily be carried on with such velocity as to 
penetrate and 'divide all this atmosphere, where clouds, 
and rain, and winds are formed, which, in consequence of 
the exhalations from the earth, is moist and dark : but, 
when the soul has once got above this region, and falls in 
with, and recognizes, a nature like its own, it then rests 
upon fires composed of a combination of thin air and a 
moderate solar heat, and does not aim at any higher 
flight ; for then, after it has attained a lightness and heat 
resembling its own, it moves no more, but remains steady, 
being balanced, as it were, between two equal weights. 
That, then, is its natural seat where it has penetrated to 
something like itself, and where, wanting nothing further, 
it may be supported and maintained by the same aliment 
which nourishes and maintains the stars. 

Now, as we arc usually incited to all sorts of desires by 
the stimulus of the body, and the more so as we endeavor 
to rival those who are in possession of what we long for, 
we shall certainly be happy when, being emancipated from 
that body, we at the same time get rid of these desires 
and this rivalry. And that which we do at present, 
when, dismissing all other cares, we curiously examine 
and look into anything, we shall then do with greater free 
dom ; and we shall employ ourselves entirely in the con 
templation and examination of things; because there is 
naturally in our minds a certain insatiable desire to know 
the truth, and the very region itself where we shall arrive, 
as it gives ns a more intuitive and easy knowledge of ce 
lestial things, will raise our desires after knowledge. For 
it was this beauty of the heavens, as seen even here upon 
earth, which gave birth to that national and hereditary 
philosophy (as Theophrastus calls it), which was thus ex 
cited to a desire of knowledge. But those persons will in 
a most especial degree enjoy this philosophy, who, while 
they were only inhabitants of this world and enveloped in 
darkness, were still desirous of looking into these things 
with the eye of their mind. 

XX. For if those men now think that they have attain- 


ed something who have seen the mouth of the Pontus, 
and those straits which were passed by the ship called 
Argo, because, 

From Argos she did chosen men convey, 

Bound to fetch back the Golden Fleece, their prey ; 

or those who have seen the straits of the ocean, 

Where the swift waves divide the neighboring shores 
Of Europe, and of Afric ; 

what kind of sight do you imagine that will be when the 
whole earth is laid open to our view ? and that, too, not 
only in its position, form, and boundaries, nor those parts 
of it only which are habitable, but those also that lie un 
cultivated, through the extremities of heat and cold to 
which they are exposed ; for not even now is it with our 
eyes that we view what we see, for the body itself has no 
senses ; but (as the naturalists, ay, and even the physicians 
assure us, who have opened our bodies, and examined 
them) there are certain perforated channels from the seat 
of the soul to the eyes, ears, and nose ; so that frequently, 
when either prevented by meditation, or the force of some 
bodily disorder, we neither hear nor see, though our eyes 
and ears are open and in good condition ; so that we may 
easily apprehend that it is the soul itself which sees and 
hears, and not those parts which are, as it were, but win 
dows to the soul, by means of which, however, she can 
perceive nothing, unless she is on the spot, and exerts her 
self. How shall we account for the fact that by the same 
power of thinking we comprehend the most different 
things as color, taste, heat, smell, and sound which the 
soul could never know by her five messengers, unless every 
thing were referred to her, and she were the sole judge of 
all? And we shall certainly discover these things in 'a, 
more clear and perfect degree when the soul is disengaged 
from the body, and has arrived at that goal to which nat 
ure leads her; for at present, notwithstanding nature has 
contrived, with the greatest skill, those channels which 
lead from the body to the soul, yet are they, in some way 
or other, stopped up with earthy and concrete bodies ; but 
when we shall be nothing but soul, then nothing will inter- 

O 7 O 


fere to prevent our seeing everything in its real substance 
and in its true character. 

XXI. It is true, I might expatiate, did the subject re 
quire it, on the many and various objects with which the 
soul will be entertained in those heavenly regions; when I 
reflect on which, I am apt to wonder at the boldness of 
some philosophers, who are so struck with admiration at 
the knowledge of nature as to thank, in an exulting man- 

O ' !j 

ner, the first inventor and teacher of natural philosophy, 
and to reverence him as a God ; for they declare that they 
have been delivered by his means from the greatest tyrants, 
a perpetual terror, and a fear that molested them by night 
and day. What is this dread this fear? What old 
woman is there so weak as to fear these things, which you, 
forsooth, had you not been acquainted with natural philos 
ophy, would stand in awe of? 

The linllow'd roofs of Acheron, the dread 
Of Orcus, the pale regions of the dead. 

And does it become a philosopher to boast that he is not 
afraid of these things, and that he has discovered them to 
be false? And from this we may perceive how acute these 
men were by nature, who, if they had been left without 
any instruction, would have believed in these things. But 
now they have certainly made a very fine acquisition in 
learning that when the day of their death -arrives, they 
will perish entirely. And, if that really is the case for I 
say nothing either way what is there agreeable or glori 
ous in it ? Not that I sec any reason why the opinion of 
Pythagoras and Plato may not be true ; but even although 
Plato were to have assigned no reason for his opinion (ob 
serve how much I esteem the man), the weight of his au 
thority would have borne me down; but he has brought 
so many reasons, that he appears to me to have endeav 
ored to convince others, and certainly to have convinced 

XXII. But there are many who labor on the other side 
of the question, and condemn souls to death, as if they 
were criminals capitally convicted ; nor have they any 
other reason to allege why the immortality of the soul ap 
pears to them to be incredible, except that they are not 


able to conceive what sort of thing the soul can be when 
disentangled from the body; just as if they could really 
form a correct idea as to what sort of thing it is, even 
when it is in the body; what its form, and size, and 
abode are; so that were they able to have a full view of 
all that is now hidden from them in a living body, they 
have no idea whether the soul would be discernible by 
them, or whether it is of so fine a texture that it would 
escape their sight. Let those consider this, who say that 
they are unable to form any idea of the soul without the 
body, and then they will see whether they can form any 
adequate idea of what it is when it is in the body. For 
my own part, when I reflect on the nature of the soul, it 
appears to me a far more perplexing and obscure question 
to determine what is its character while it is in the body 
a place which, as it were, does not belong to it than to 
imagine what it is when it leaves it, and has arrived at 
the free aBther, which is, if I may so say, its proper, its 
own habitation. For unless we are to say that we cannot 
apprehend the character or nature of anything which we 
have never seen, we certainly may be able to form some 
notion of God, and of the divine soul when released from 
the body. Dicajarchus, indeed, and Aristoxenus, because 
it was hard to understand the existence and substance 
and nature of the soul, asserted that there was no such 
thing as a soul at all. It is, indeed, the most difficult 
thing imaginable to discern the soul by the soul. And 
this, doubtless, is the meaning of the precept of Apollo, 
which advises every one to know himself. For I do not 
apprehend the meaning of the God to have been that we 
should understand our members, our stature, and form ; 
for we are not merely bodies ; nor, when I say these things 
t> you, am I addressing myself to your body : when, there 
fore, he says, "Know yourself," he says this, "Inform 
yourself of the nature of your soul ;" for the body is but 
u kind of vessel, or receptacle of the soul, and whatever 
your soul does is your own act. To know the soul, then, 
unless it had been divine, would not have been a precept 
of such excellent wisdom as to be attributed to a God ; but 
even though the soul should not know of what nature it 
self is, will you say that it does not even perceive that it 


exists at all, or that it has motion ? On which is founded 
that reason of Plato's, which is explained by Socrates in 
the Phaedrus, and inserted by me, in my sixth book of the 

XXIII. "That which is always moved is eternal; but 
that which gives motion to something else, and is moved 
itself by some external cause, when that motion ceases, 
must necessarily cease to exist. That, therefore, alone, 
which is self-moved, because it is never forsaken by itself, 
can never cease to be moved. Besides, it is the beginning 
and principle of motion to everything else ; but whatever 
is a principle has no beginning, for all things arise from 
that principle, and it cannot itself owe its rise to anything 
else; for then it would not be a principle did it proceed 
from anything else. But if it has no beginning, it never 
will have any end; for a principle which is once extin 
guished cannot itself be restored by anything else, nor 
can it produce anything else from itself; inasmuch as all 
things must necessarily arise from some first cause. And 
thus it comes about that the first principle of motion 
must arise from that thing which is itself moved by itself; 
and that can neither have a beginning nor an end of its 
existence, for otherwise the whole heaven and earth would 
be overset, and all nature would stand still, and not be 
able to acquire any force by the impulse of which it 
might be first set in motion. Seeing, then, that it is clear 
that whatever moves itself is eternal, can there be any 
doubt that the soul is so? For everything is inanimate 
which is moved by an external force; but everything 
which is animate is moved by an interior force, which also 
belongs to itself. For this is the peculiar nature and 
power of the soul; and if the soul be the only thing in 
the whole world which has the power of self-motion, then 
certainly it never had a beginning, and therefore it is 

Now, should all the lower order of philosophers (for so 
I think they may be called who dissent from Plato and 
Socrates and that school) unite their force, they never 
would be able to explain anything so elegantly as this, 
nor even to understand how ingeniously this conclusion is 
drawn. The soul, then, perceives itself to have motion, 


and, at the same time that it gets that perception, it is 
sensible that it derives that motion from its own power, 
and not from the agency of another ; and it is impossible 
that it should ever forsake itself. And these premises 
compel you to allow its eternity, unless you have some 
thing to say against them. 

A. I should myself be very well pleased not to have 
even a thought arise in my mind against them, so much 
am I inclined to that opinion. 

XXIV. M. Well, then, I appeal to you, if the arguments 
which prove that there is something divine in the souls of 
men are not equally strong? But if I could account for 
the origin of these divine properties, then I might also 
be able to explain how they might cease to exist ; for I 
think I can account for the manner in which the blood, 
and bile, and phlegm, and bones, and nerves, and veins, and 
all the limbs, and the shape of the whole body, were put 
together and made ; ay, and even as to the soul itself, were 
there nothing more in it than a principle of life, then the 
life of a man might be put upon the same footing as that 
of a vine or any other tree, and accounted for as caused 
by nature ; for these things, as we say, live. Besides, if 
desires and aversions were all that belonged to the soul, 
it would have them only in common with the beasts ; but 
it has, in the first place, memory, and that, too, so infinite 
as to recollect an absolute countless number of circum 
stances, which Plato will have to be a recollection of a 
former life; for in that book which is inscribed Menon, 
Socrates asks a child some questions in geometry, with 
reference to measuring a square ; his answers are such as 
a child would make, and yet the questions are so easy, 
that while answering them, one by one, he comes to the 
same point as if he had learned geometry. From whence 
Socrates would infer that learning is nothing more than 
recollection ; and this topic he explains more accurately 
in the discourse which lie held the very day he died ; for 
he there asserts that any one, who seeming to be entirely 
illiterate, is yet able to answer a question well that is pro 
posed to him, does in so doing manifestly show that he 
is not learning it then, but recollecting it by his memory. 
Nor is it to be accounted for in any other way, how chil- 



drcn come to have notions of so many and such important 
things as arc implanted, and, as it were, sealed up, in their 
minds (which the Greeks call iwotat), unless the soul, be 
fore it entered the body, had been well stored with knowl 
edge. And as it had no existence at all (for this is the 
invariable doctrine of Plato, who will not admit anything 
to have a real existence which has a beginning and an 
end, and who thinks that that alone does really exist which 
is of such a character as what he calls e'leka, and we species), 
therefore, being shut up in the body, it could not while in 
the body discover what it knows ; but it knew it before, 
and brought the knowledge with it, so that we are no 
longer surprised at its extensive and multifarious knowl 
edge. Nor does the soul clearly discover its ideas at its 
first resort to this abode to which it is so unaccustomed, 
and which is in so disturbed a state ; but after having re 
freshed and recollected itself, it then by its memory re 
covers them ; and, therefore, to learn implies nothing more 
than to recollect. But I am in a particular manner sur 
prised at memory. For what is that faculty by which we 
remember? what is its force? what its nature? I am 
not inquiring how great a memory Simonides 1 may be 
said to have had, or Theodectes, 4 or that Cineas 3 who was 
sent to Rome as ambassador from Pyrrhus ; or, in more 
modern times, Charmadas; 4 or, very lately, Metrodorus 6 

x The Simonides here meant is the celebrated poet of Ceos, the per- 
fecter of elegiac poetry among the Greeks. He flourished about the 
time of the Persian war. Besides his poetry, he is said to have been the 
inventor of some method of aiding the memory. He died at the court 
of Hiero, 4G7 B.C. 

2 Theodectes was a native of Phaselis, in Pnmphylia, a distinguished 
rhetorician and tragic poet, and flourished in the time of Philip of Mac- 
cdon. He was a pupil of Isocrates, and lived at Athens, and died there 
at the age of forty-one. 

3 Cineas was a Thessalian, and (as is said in the text) came to Rome 
as ambassador from Pyrrhus after the battle of lleraclea, 280 B.C., and 
his memory is said to have been so great that on the day after his arri 
val he was able to address all the senators nnd knights by name. He 
probably died before Pyrrhus returned to Italy, 27G B.C. 

4 Charmadas, called also Charmides, was a fellow-pupil with Philo, 
the Larissasan of Clitomachus, the Carthaginian. He is said by some 
authors to have founded a fourth academy. 

6 Metrodorus was a minister of Mithridates the Great; and employed 
by him as supreme judge in Pontus, and afterward as an ambassador. 


the Scepsian, or our own contemporary Hortensins : l I am 
speaking of ordinary memory, and especially of those men 
who are employed in any important study or art, the great 
capacity of whose minds it is hard to estimate, such num 
bers of things do they remember. 

XXV. Should you ask what this leads to, I think we 
may understand what that power is, and whence we have 
it. It certainly proceeds neither from the heart, nor from 
the blood, nor from the brain, nor from atoms; whether 
it be air or fire, I know not, nor am I, as those men are, 
ashamed, in cases where I am ignorant, to own that I am 
so. If in any other obscure matter I were able to assert 
anything positively, then I Avould swear that the soul, be 
it air or fire, is divine. Just think, I beseech you : can 
you imagine this wonderful power of memory to be sown 
in or to be a part of the composition of the earth, or of 
this dark and gloomy atmosphere? Though you cannot 
apprehend what it is, yet you see what kind of thing it is, 
or if you do not quite see that, yet you certainly see how 
great it is. What, then? Shall we imagine that there is 
a kind of measure in the soul, into which, as into a vessel, 
all that we remember is poured ? That indeed is absurd ; 
for how shall we form any idea of the bottom, or of the 
shape or fashion of such a soul as that? And, again, how 
are we to conceive how much it is able to contain ? Shall 
we imagine the soul to receive impressions like wax, and 
memory to be marks of the impressions made on the soul? 
What are the characters of the words, what of the facts 
themselves ? and what, again, is that prodigious greatness 
which can give rise to impressions of so many things? 
What, lastly, is that power which investigates secret 
tilings, and is called invention and contrivance? Does 
that man seem to be compounded of this earthly, mortal, 
and perishing nature who first invented names for every- 

Cicero speaks of him in other places (De Orat. ii. 88) as a man of won 
derful memory. 

1 Quintus Hortensius was eight years older than Cicero ; and, till 
Cicero's fame surpassed his, he was accounted the most eloquent of all 
the Romans. lie was Verres's counsel in the prosecution conducted 
against him by Cicero. Seneca relates that his memory was so great 
that he could come out of an auction and repeat the catalogue backward. 
He died 50 B.C. 


thing, which, if you Avill believe Pythagoras, is the highest 
pitch of wisdom ? or he who collected the dispersed in 
habitants of the world, and united them in the bonds of 
social life? or he who confined the sounds of the voice, 
which used to seem infinite, to the marks of a few letters? 
or he who first observed the courses of the planets, their 
progressive motions, their laws? These were all great 
men. But they were greater still who invented food, and 
raiment, and houses; who introduced civilization among 
us, and armed us against the wild beasts; by whom we 
were made sociable and polished, and so proceeded from 
the necessaries of life to its embellishments. For we have 
provided great entertainments for the ears by inventing 
and modulating the variety and nature of sounds; we 
have learned to survey the stars, not only those that are 
fixed, but also those which are improperly called wander 
ing; and the man who has acquainted himself with all 
their revolutions and motions is fairly considered to have 
a soul resembling the soul of that Being who lias created 
those stars in the heavens: for when Archimedes de 
scribed in a sphere the motions of the moon, sun, and five 
planets, he did the very same thing as Plato's God, in his 
Titnasus, who made the world, causing one revolution to 
adjust motions differing as much as possible in their 
slowness and velocity. Now, allowing that what we sec 
in the world could not be effected without a God, Archi 
medes could not have imitated the same motions in his 
sphere without a divine soul. 

XXVI. To me, indeed, it appears that even those studies 
which are more common and in greater esteem are not 
without some divine energy : so that I do not consider 
that a poet can produce a serious and sublime poem with 
out some divine impulse working on his mind ; nor do I 
think that eloquence, abounding with sonorous words and 
fruitful sentences, can flow thus without something be 
yond mere human power. But as to philosophy, that is 
the parent of all the arts : what can we call that but, as 
Plato says, a gift, or, as I express it, an invention, of the 
Gods? This it was which first taught us the worship of 
the Gods ; and then led us on to justice, which arises from 
the human race being formed into society ; and after that 


it imbued us with modesty and elevation of soul. This 
it was which dispersed darkness from our souls, as it is 
dispelled from our eyes, enabling us to see all things that 
are above or below, the beginning, end, and middle of ev 
erything. I am convinced entirely that that which could 
effect so many and such great things must be a divine 
power. For what is memory of words and circumstances ? 
What, too, is invention? Surely they are things than 
which nothing greater can be conceived in a God ! For I 
do not imagine the Gods to be delighted with nectar and 
ambrosia, or with Juventas presenting them with a cup ; 
nor do I put any faith in Homer, who says that Ganymede 
was carried away by the Gods on account of his beauty, 
in order to give Jupiter his wine. Too weak reasons for 
doing Laomedon such injury! These were mere inven 
tions of Homer, who gave his Gods the imperfections of 
men. I would rather that he Imd given men the perfec 
tions of the Gods ! those perfections, I mean, of uninter 
rupted health, wisdom, invention, memory. Therefore the 
soul (which is, as I say, divine) is, as Euripides more bold 
ly expresses it, a God. And thus, if the divinity be air or 
fire, the soul of man is the same ; for as that celestial nat 
ure has nothing earthly or humid about it, in like manner 
the soul of man is also free from both these qualities : but 
if it is of that fifth kind of nature, first introduced by Ar 
istotle, then both Gods and souls are of the same. 

XXVII. As this is my opinion, I have explained it in 
these very words, in my book on Consolation. 1 The ori 
gin of the soul of man is not to be found upon earth, for 
there is nothing in the soul of a mixed or concrete nature, 
or that has any appearance of being formed or made out 
of the earth; nothing even humid, or airy, or fiery. For 
what is there in natures of that kind which has the power 
of memory, understanding, or thought? which can recol 
lect the past, foresee the future, and comprehend the pres 
ent? for these capabilities are confined to divine beings; 
nor can we discover any source from which men could de 
rive them, but from God. There is therefore a peculiar 

1 This treatise is one which has not come down to us, but which had 
been lately composed by Cicero in order to comfort himself for the loss 
of his daughter. 


nature and power in the soul, distinct from those natures 
which are more known and familiar to us. Whatever, 
then, that is which thinks, and which has understanding, 
and volition, and a principle of life, is heavenly and divine, 
and on that account must necessarily be eternal ; nor can 
God himself, who is known to us, be conceived to be any 
thing else except a soul free and unembarrassed, distinct 
from all mortal concretion, acquainted with everything, 
and giving motion to everything, and itself endued with 
perpetual motion. 

XXVIII. Of this kind and nature is the intellect of man. 
Where, then, is this intellect seated, and of what character 
is it ? where is your own, and what is its character ? Are 
you able to tell? If I have not faculties for knowing all 
that I could desire to know, will you not even allow me to 
make use of those which I have ? The soul has not suffi 
cient capacity to comprehend itself ; yet, the soul, like the 
eye, though it has no distinct view of itself, sees other 
things : it does not see (which is of least consequence) its 
own shape; perhaps not, though it possibly may; but we 
will pass that by : but it certainly sees that it has vigor, 
sagacity, memory, motion, and velocity ; these are all great, 
divine, eternal properties. What its appearance is, or 
where it dwells, it is not necessary even to inquire. As 
when we behold, first of all, the beauty and brilliant ap 
pearance of the heavens ; secondly, the vast velocity of its 
revolutions, beyond power of our imagination to conceive; 
then the vicissitudes of nights and days, the fourfold divis 
ion of the seasons, so well adapted to the ripening of the 
fruits of the earth, and the temperature of our bodies: 
and after that we look up to the sun, the moderator and 
governor of all these things ; and view the moon, by the 
increase and decrease of its light, marking, as it were, and 
appointing our holy days ; and see the five planets, borne 
on in the same circle, divided into twelve parts, preserving 
the same course with the gi'eatest regularity, but with ut 
terly dissimilar motions among themselves ; and the night 
ly appearance of the heaven, adorned on all sides with 
stars ; then, the globe of the earth, raised above the sea, 
and placed in the centre of the universe, inhabited and cul 
tivated in its two opposite extremities, one of which, the 


place of our habitation, is situated towards the north pole, 
under the seven stars : 

Where the cold northern blasts, with horrid sound, 
Harden to ice the snowy cover'd ground ; 

the other, towards the south pole, is unknown to us, but is 
called by the Greeks av-i-^Qova : the other parts are uncul 
tivated, because they are either frozen with cold, or burned 
up with heat ; but where we dwell, it never fails, in its sea 

To yield a placid sky, to bid the trees 
Assume the lively verdure of their leaves: 
The vine to bud, and, joyful in its shoots, 
Foretell the approaching vintage of its fruits : 
The ripen 'd corn to sing, while all around 
Full riv'lets glide ; and flowers deck the ground : 

then the multitude of cattle, fit part for food, part for till 
ing the ground, others for carrying us, or for clothing us; 
and man himself, made, as it were, on purpose to contem 
plate the heavens and the Gods, and to pay adoration to 
them : lastly, the whole earth, and wide extending seas, 
given to man's use. When we view these and numberless 
other things, can we doubt that they have some being who 
presides over them, or has made them (if, indeed, they 
have been made, as is the opinion of Plato, or if, as Aris 
totle thinks, they are eternal), or who at all events is the 
regulator of so immense a fabric and so great a blessing 
to men? Thus, though you see not the soul of man, as 
you see not the Deity, yet, as by the contemplation of his 
works you are led to acknowledge a God, so you must own 
the divine power of the soul, from its remembering things, 
from its invention, from the quickness of its motion, and 
from all the beauty of virtue. Where, then, is it seated, 
you will say? 

XXIX. In my opinion, it is seated in the head, and I can 
bi'ing you reasons for my adopting that opinion. At pres 
ent, let the soul reside where it will, you certainly have 
one in you. Should you ask what its nature is? It has 
one peculiarly its own ; but admitting it to consist of fire, 
or air, it does not affect the present question. Only ob 
serve this, that as you are convinced there is a God, though 


you are ignorant where he resides, and what shape he is 
of; in like manner you ought to feel assured that you have 
a soul, though you cannot satisfy yourself of the place of 
its residence, nor its form. In our knowledge of the soul, 
unless we are grossly ignorant of natural philosophy, we 
cannot but be satisfied that it has nothing but what is 
simple, unmixed, uncompounded, and single ; and if this is 
admitted, then it cannot be separated, nor divided, nor dis 
persed, nor parted, and therefore it cannot perish ; for to 
perish implies a parting-asunder, a division, a disunion, of 
those parts which, while it subsisted, were held together 
by some band. And it was because he was influenced by 
these and similar reasons that Socrates neither looked out 
for anybody to plead for him when he was accused, nor 
begged any favor from his judges, but maintained a man 
ly freedom, which was the effect not of pride, but of the 
true greatness of his soul ; and on the last day of his life 
he held a long discourse on this subject; and a few days 
before, when he might have been easily freed from his con 
finement, he refused to be so; and when he had almost 
actually hold of that deadly cup, he spoke with the air of 
a man not forced to die, but ascending into heaven. 

XXX. For so indeed he thought himself, and thus he 
spoke: "That there were two ways, and that the souls 
of men, at their departure from the body, took different 
roads; for those which were polluted with vices that are 
common to men, and which had given themselves up en 
tirely to unclean desires, and had become so blinded by 
them as to have habituated themselves to all manner of 
debauchery and profligacy, or to have laid detestable 
schemes for the ruin of their country, took a road wide of 
that which led to the assembly of the Gods; but they who 
had preserved themselves upright and chaste, and free 
from the slightest contagion of the body, and had always 
kept themselves as far as possible at a distance from it, 
and while on earth had proposed to themselves as a model 
the life of the Gods, found the return to those beings from 
whom they had come an easy one." Therefore, he argues, 
that all good and wise men should take example from the 
swans, who are considered sacred to Apollo, not without 
reason, but particularly because they seem to have received 


the gift of divination from him, by which, foreseeing how 
happy it is to die, they leave this world with singing and 
joy. Nor can any one doubt of this, unless it happens to 
us who think with care and anxiety about the soul (as is 
often the case with those who look earnestly at the setting 
sun), to lose the sight of it entirely ; and so the mind's eye, 
viewing itself, sometimes grows dull, and for that reason 
we become remiss in our contemplation. Thus our reason 
ing is borne about, harassed with doubts and anxieties, not 
knowing how to proceed, but measuring back again those 
dangerous tracts which it has passed, like a boat tossed 
about on the boundless ocean. But these reflections arc 
of long standing, and borrowed from the Greeks. But 
Cato left this world in such a manner as if he were de 
lighted that he had found an opportunity of dying; for 
that God who presides in us forbids our departure hence 
without his leave. But when God himself has given us a 
just cause, as formerly he did to Socrates, and lately to 
Cato, and often to many others in such a case, certainly 
every man of sense would gladly exchange this darkness 
for that light : not that he would forcibly break from the 
chains that held him, for that would be against the law ; 
but, like a man released from prison by a magistrate or 
some lawful authority, so he too would walk away, being 
released and discharged by God. For the whole life of a 
philosopher is, as the same philosopher says, a meditation 
on death. 

XXXI. For what else is it that we do, when we call off 
our minds from pleasure, that is to say, from our attention 
to the body, from the managing our domestic estate, which 
is a sort of handmaid and servant of the body, or from du 
ties of a public nature, or from all other serious business 
whatever? What else is it, I say, that we do, but invite 
the soul to reflect on itself? oblige it to converse with it 
self, and, as far as possible, break off its acquaintance with 
the body ? Now, to separate the soul from the body, is 
to learn to die, and nothing else whatever. Wherefore take 
my advice ; and let us meditate on this, and separate our 
selves as far as possible from the body, that is to say, let 
us accustom ourselves to die. This will be enjoying a life 
like that of heaven even while we remain on earth ; and 


when we arc curried thither and released from these bonds, 
our souls will make their progress with more rapidity; for 
the spirit which has always been fettered by the bonds of 
the body, even when it is disengaged, advances more slow 
ly, just as those do who have worn actual fetters for many 
years : but when we have arrived at this emancipation 
from the bonds of the body, then indeed we shall begin to 
live, for this present life is really death, which I could say 
a good deal in lamentation for if I chose. 

A. You have lamented it sufficiently in your book on 
Consolation ; and when I read that, there is nothing which 
I desire more than to leave these things ; but that desire 
is increased a great deal by what I have just heard. 

M. The time will come, and that soon, and with equal 
certainty, whether you hang back or press forward; for 
time flies. But death is so far from being an evil, as it 
lately appeared to you, that I am inclined to suspect, not 
that there is no other thing which is an evil to man, but 
rather that there is nothing else which is a real good to 
him ; if, at least, it is true that we become thereby either 
Gods ourselves, or companions of the Gods. However, 
this is not of so much consequence, as there are some of 
us here who will not allow this. But I will not leave off 
discussing this point till I have convinced you that death 
can, upon no consideration whatever, be an evil. 

A. How can it, after what I now know ? 

M. Do you ask how it can? There are crowds of ar- 
guers who contradict this ; and those not only Epicureans, 
whom I regard very little, but, somehow or other, almost 
every man of letters ; and, above all, rny favorite Dicaear- 
chus is very strenuous in opposing the immortality of the 
soul : for he has written three books, which are entitled 
Lesbiaes, because the discourse was held at Mitylene, in 
which he seeks to prove that souls are mortal. The Stoics, 
on the other hand, allow us as long a time for enjoyment 
as the life of a raven ; they allow the soul to exist a great 
while, but are against its eternity. 

XXXII. Are you willing to hear then why, even allow 
ing this, death cannot be an evil. 

A. As you please ; but no one shall drive me from my 
belief in mortality. 


M. I commend you, indeed, for that; though we should 
not be too confident in our belief of anything; for we are 
frequently disturbed by some subtle conclusion. We give 
way and change our opinions even in things that are more 
evident than this; for in this there certainly is some ob 
scurity. Therefore, should anything of this kind happen, 
it is well to be on our guard. 

A. You are right in that; but I will provide against 
any accident. 

M. Have you any objection to our dismissing our friends 
the Stoics those, I mean, who allow that the souls exist 
after they have left the body, but yet deny that they exist 
forever ? 

A. We certainly may dismiss the consideration of those 
men who admit that which is the most difficult point in 
the whole question, namely, that a soul can exist inde 
pendently of the body, and yet refuse to grant that which 
is not only very easy to believe, but which is even the 
natural consequence of the concession which they have 
made that if they can exist for a length of time, they 
most likely do so forever. 

M. You take it right ; that is the very thing. Shall we 
give, therefore, any credit to Pausetius, when he dissents 
from his master, Plato ? whom he everywhere calls divine, 
the wisest, the holiest of men, the Homer of philosophers, 
and whom he opposes in nothing except this single opinion 
of the soul's immortality: for he maintains what nobody 
denies, that everything which has been generated will per 
ish, and that even souls are generated, which he thinks 
appears from their resemblance to those of the men who 
begot them ; for that likeness is as apparent in the turn 
of their minds as in their bodies. But he brings another 
reason that there is nothing which is sensible of pain 
which is not also liable to disease ; but whatever is liable 
to disease must be liable to death. The soul is sensible 
of pain, therefore it is liable to perish. 

XXXIII. These arguments may be refuted; for they 
proceed from his not knowing that, while discussing the 
subject of the immortality of the soul, he is speaking of 
the intellect, which is free from all turbid motion ; but 
not of those parts of the mind in which those disorders, 


anger and lust, have their seat, and which he whom he is 
opposing, when he argues thus, imagines to be distinct 
and separate from the mind. Now this resemblance is 
more remarkable in beasts, whose souls are void of reason. 
But the likeness in men consists more in the configuration 
of the bodies: and it is of no little consequence in what 
bodies the soul is lodged ; for there are many tilings which 
depend on the body that give an edge to the soul, many 
which blunt it. Aristotle, indeed, says that all men of 
great genius are melancholy ; so that I should not have 
been displeased to have been somewhat duller than I am. 
He instances many, and, as if it were matter of fact, brings 
his reasons for it. But if the power of those things that 
proceed from the body be so great as to influence the 
mind (for they are the tilings, whatever they are, that oc 
casion this likeness), still that does not necessarily prove 
why a similitude of souls should be generated. I say 
nothing about cases of unlikeness. I wish Panaetius could 
be here: he lived with Africanus. I would inquire of 
him which of his family the nephew of Afrioanus's brother 
was like ? Possibly he may in person have resembled his 
father ; but in his manners he was so like every profligate, 
abandoned man, that it was impossible to be more so. 
Whom did the grandson of P. Crassus, that wise and elo 
quent and most distinguished man, resemble? Or the re 
lations and sons of many other excellent men, whose names 
there is no occasion to mention ? But what are we doing? 
Have we forgotten that our purpose was, when we had 
sufficiently spoken on the subject of the immortality of 
the soul, to prove that, even if the soul did perish, there 
would be, even then, no evil in death ? 

A. I remembered it very well ; but I had no dislike to 
your digressing a little from your original design, while 
you were talking of the soul's immortality. 

M. I perceive you have sublime thoughts, and are eager 
to mount up to heaven. 

XXXIV. I am not without hopes myself that such may 
be our fate. But admit what they assert that the soul 
does not continue to exist after death. 

A. Should it be so, I see that we are then deprived of 
the hopes of a happier life. 


M. But what is there of evil in that opinion ? For let 
the soul perish as the body : is there any pain, or indeed 
any feeling at all, in the body after death? No one, in 
deed, asserts that; though Epicurus charges Democritus 
with saying so ; but the disciples of Democritns deny it- 
No sense, therefore, remains in the soul; for the soul is 
nowhere. Where, then, is the evil? for there is nothing 
but these two things. Is it because the mere separation 
of the soul and body cannot be effected without pain ? 
But even should that be granted, how small a pain must 
that be ! Yet I think that it is false, and that it is very 
often unaccompanied by any sensation at all, and some 
times even attended with pleasure ; but certainly the whole 
must be very trifling, whatever it is, for it is instantaneous. 
What makes us uneasy, or rather gives us pain, is the 
leaving all the good things of life. But just consider if I 
might not more properly say, leaving the evils of life; 
only there is no reason for my now occupying myself in 
bewailing the life of man, and yet I might, with very good 
reason. But what occasion is there, when what I am la 
boring to prove is that no one is miserable after death, to 
make life more miserable by lamenting over it? I have 
done that in the book which I wrote, in order to comfort 
myself as well as I could. If, then, our inquiry is after 
truth, death withdraws us from evil, not from good. This 
subject is indeed so copiously handled by Ilegesias, the 
Cyrenaic philosopher, that he is said to have been forbid 
den by Ptolemy from delivering his lectures in the schools, 
because some who heard him made away with themselves. 
There is, too, an epigram of Callimachus 1 on Cleombrotus 
of Ambracia, who, without any misfortune having befall 
en him, as he says, threw himself from a wall into the sea, 
after he had read a book of Plato's. The book I mention 
ed of that Hegesias is called 'ATrocaprtpwj', or "A Man who 

1 The epigram is, 

EiTrat "HA<e \atpe, KhfopfipoT 

tiXar' a<(>' v\l/ti\ov rei'xeor fi 
a%iov ov&tv id>i< Oavdrou KUM'H', u\\u nAarcoyo? 

ei/ TO n-epi <K'X]C fP"^^' "I'aAefa/nei'or. 

Which may be translated, perhaps, 

Farewell. O sun, Cleombrotus exclaim'cl, 
Then plunged from off a heiirht beneath the sea ; 

Stunir by pain. of n ilU'jnn < a-liaincd. 
I!iit moved by Plato's lih'h |>h;lsii|>liY. 


starves himself," in which a man is represented as killing 
himself by starvation, till he is prevented by his friends, 
in reply to whom he reckons up all the miseries of human 
life. I might do the same, though not so fully as he, who 
thinks it not worth any man's while to live. I pass over 
others. Was it even worth my while to live, for, had I 
died before I was deprived of the comforts of my own 
family, and of the honors which I received for my public 
services, would not death have taken me from the evils of 
life rather than from its blessings? 

XXXV. Mention, therefore, some one, who never knew 
distress; who never received any blow from fortune. 
The great Metellus had four distinguished sons; but 
Priam had fifty, seventeen of whom were born to him by 
his lawful wife. Fortune had the same power over both, 
though she exercised it but on one ; for Metellus was laid 
on his funeral pile by a great company of sons and daugh 
ters, grandsons, and granddaughters; but Priam fell by 
the hand of an enemy, after having fled to the altar, and 
having seen himself deprived of all his numerous progeny. 
Hotl he died before the death of his sons and the ruin of 
his kingdom, 

With all his mighty wealth elate, 

Under rich canopies of state ; 

would he then have been taken from good or from evil? 
It would indeed, at that time, have appeared that he was 
being taken away from good; yet surely it would have 
turned out advantageous for him; nor should we have 
had these mournful verses, 

Lo! these all perish 'd in one flaming pile ; 
The foe old Priam did of life beguile, 
And with his blood, thy altar, Jove, defile. 

As if anything better could have happened to him at that 
time than to lose his life in that manner ; but yet, if it had 
befallen him sooner, it would have prevented all those con 
sequences ; but even as it was, it released him from any 
further sense of them. The case of our friend Pompcy 1 

1 This is alluded to by Juvenal : 

Provida Pompeio dederat Campania febres 
Optandas : fed multae nrbes et pnblica vota 

Vircrimt. Igitur Fortniia ipsins et Urbis, 
Scrvuttim victo caput abstulit. Sat. x. 'Jb;s. 


was something better : once, when he had been very ill 
at Naples, the Neapolitans, on his recovery, put crowns 
on their heads, as did those of Puteoli ; the people flocked 
from the country to congratulate him it is a Grecian 
custom, and a foolish one ; still it is a sign of good fort 
une. But the question is, had he died, would he have 
been taken from good, or from evil? Certainly from 
evil. He would not have been engaged in a war with his 
father-in-law; 1 he would not have taken up arms before 
he was prepared; he would not have left his own house, 
noi* fled from Italy; he would not, after the loss of his 
army, have fallen unarmed into the hands of slaves, and 
been put to death by them ; his children would not have 
been destroyed; nor would his whole fortune have come 
into the possession of the conquerors. Did not he, then, 
who, if he had died at that time, would have died in all 
his glory, owe all the great and terrible misfortunes into 
which he subsequently fell to the prolongation of his life 
at that time ? 

XXXVI. These calamities are avoided by death, for 
even though they should never happen, there is a possibil 
ity that they may ; but it never occurs to a man that such 
a disaster may befall him himself. Every one hopes to 
be as happy as Metellus : as if the number of the happy 
exceeded that of the miserable; or as if there were any 
certainty in human affairs ; or, again, as if there were 
more rational foundation for hope than fear. But should 
we grant them even this, that men are by death deprived 
of good things ; would it follow that the dead are there 
fore in need of the good things of life, and are miserable 
on that account? Certainly they must necessarily say so. 
Can he who does not exist be in need of anything? To 
be in need of has a melancholy sound, because it in effect 
amounts to this he had, but he has not; he regrets, he 
looks back upon, he wants. Such are, I suppose, the dis- 

1 Pompey's second wife was Julia, the daughter of Julius Caesar. 
She died the year before the death of Crassus, in Parthia. Virgil 
speaks of Caesar and Pompey as relations, using the same expression 
(socer) as Cicero : 

.Vjvribus poccr Alpinis atqne nrcc Monreci 

Dwcmdenv, teener adversis instrncttis (iois. -E:i. vi. 830. 


tresses of one who is in need of. Is he deprived of eyes? 
to be blind is misery. Is lie destitute of children f not to 
have them is misery. These considerations apply to the 
living, but the dead are neither in need of the blessings 
of life, nor of life itself. But when I am speaking of the 
dead, I am speaking of those who have no existence. But 
would any one say of us, who do exist, that we want 
horns or wings? Certainly not. Should it be asked, 
why not? the answer would be, that not to have what 
neither custom nor nature has fitted you for would not 
imply a want of them, even though you were sensible that 
you had them not. This argument should be pressed 
over and over again, after that point has once been estab 
lished, which, if souls are mortal, there can be no dispute 
about I mean, that the destruction of them by death is 
so entire as to remove even the least suspicion of any 
sense remaining. When, therefore, this point is once well 
grounded and established, we must correctly define what 
the term to want means; that there may be no mistake 
in the word. To want, then, signifies this : to be without 
that which you would be glad to have ; for inclination for 
a thing is 'implied in the word want, excepting when we 
use the word in an entirely different sense, as we do when 
we say that a fever is wanting to any one. For it admits 
of a different interpretation, when you are without a cer 
tain thing, and are sensible that you are without it, but 
yet can easily dispense with having it. " To want," then, 
is an expression which you cannot apply to the dead; nor 
is the mere fact of wanting something necessarily lamen 
table. The proper expression ought to be, " that they 
want a good," and that is an evil. 

But a living man does not want a good, unless he is dis 
tressed without it; and yet, we can easily understand 
how any man alive can be without a kingdom. But this 
cannot be predicated of you with any accuracy : it might 
have been asserted of Tarquin, when he was driven from 
his kingdom. But when such an expression is used re 
specting the dead, it is absolutely unintelligible. For to 
want implies to be sensible ; but the dead arc insensible : 
therefore, the dead can be in no want. 

XXXVII. But what occasion is there to philosophize 


here in a matter with which we see that philosophy is but 
little concerned ? How often have not only our generals, 
but whole armies, rushed on certain death ! But if it had 
been a. thing to be feared, L. Brutus would never have 
fallen in fight, to prevent the return of that tyrant whom 
he had expelled ; nor would Decius the father have been 
slain in fighting with the Latins; nor would his son, 
when engaged with the Etruscans, nor his grandson with 
Pyrrhus, have exposed themselves to the enemy's darts. 
Spain would never have seen, in one campaign, the Scip- 
ios fall fighting for their country ; nor would the plains 
of Cannae have witnessed the death of Paulus and Gemi- 
nus, or Venusia that of Marcellus ; nor would the Latins 
have beheld the death of Albinus, nor the Leucanians 
that of Gracchus. But are any of these miserable now? 
Nay, they were not so even at the first moment after they 
had breathed their last ; nor can any one be miserable af 
ter he has lost all sensation. Oh, but the mere circum 
stance of being without sensation is miserable. It might 
be so if being without sensation were the same thing as 
wanting it; but as it is evident there can be nothing'of 
any kind in that which has no existence, what can there 
be afflicting to that which can neither feel want nor be 
sensible of anything ? We might be said to have repeat 
ed this over too often, only that here lies all that the soul 
shudders at from the fear of death. For whoever can 
clearly apprehend that which is as manifest as the light 
that when both soul and body are consumed, and there 
is a total destruction, then that which was an animal be 
comes nothing will clearly see that there is no difference 
between a Hippocentaur, which never had existence, and 
King Agamemnon ; and that M. Carnillus is no more con 
cerned about this present civil war than I was at the 
sacking of Rome, when he was living. 

XXXVIII. Why, then, should Camillus be affected with 
the thoughts of these things happening three hundred and 
fifty years after his time? And why should I be uneasy 
if I were to expect that some nation might possess itself 
of this city ten thousand years hence ? Because so great 
is our regard for our country, as not to be measured by 
our own feeling, but by its own actual safety. 



Death, then, which threatens us daily from a thousand 
accidents, and which, by reason of the shortness of life, 
can never be far off, does not deter a wise man from mak 
ing such provision for his country and his family as he 
hopes may last forever ; and from regarding posterity, of 
which he can never have any real perception, as belonging 
to himself. Wherefore a man may act for eternity, even 
though he be persuaded that his soul is mortal ; not, in 
deed, from a desire of glory, which he will be insensible 
of, but from a principle of virtue, which glory will inevita 
bly attend, though that is not his object. The process, 
indeed, of nature is this: that just in the same manner as 
our birth was the beginning of things with us, so death 
will be the end ; and as we were noways concerned with 
anything before we were born, so neither shall we be after 
we are dead. And in this state of things where can the 
evil be, since death has no connection with either the 
living or the dead ? The one have no existence at all, the 
other are not yet affected by it. They who make the least 
of death consider it as having a great resemblance to sleep ; 
as if any one would choose to live ninety years on condi 
tion that, at the expiration of sixty, he should sleep out 
the remainder. The very swine would not accept of life 
on those terms, much less I. Endymion, indeed, if you 
listen to fables, slept once on a time on Latmns, a moun 
tain of Caria, and for such a length of time that I imagine 
he is not as yet awake. Do you think that he is concern 
ed at the Moon's being in difficulties, though it was by 
her that he was thrown into that sleep, in order that she 
might kiss him while sleeping. For what should he be 
concerned for who has not even any sensation ? You look 
on sleep as an image of death, and you take that on you 
daily ; and have you, then, any doubt that there is no sen 
sation in death, when you see there is none in sleep, which 
is its near resemblance? 

XXXIX. Away, then, with those follies, which are little 
better than the old women's dreams, such as that it is mis 
erable to die before our time. What time do you mean ? 
That of nature? But she has only lent you life, as she 
might lend you money, without fixing any certain time 
for its repayment. Have you any grounds of complaint, 


then, that she recalls it at her pleasure ? for you received 
it on these terms. They that complain thus allow that if 
a young child dies, the survivors ought to bear his loss 
with equanimity ; that if an infant in the cradle dies, they 
ought not even to utter a complaint; and yet nature has 
been more severe with them in demanding back what she 
gave. They answer by saying that such have not tasted 
the sweets of life ; while the other had begun to conceive 
hopes of great happiness, and, indeed, had begun to realize 
them. Men judge better in other things, and allow a part 
to be preferable to none. Why do they not admit the 
same estimate in life? Though Callimachus does not 
speak amiss in saying that more tears had flowed from 
Priam than his son; yet they are thought happier who 
die after they have reached old age. It would be hard to 
say why ; for I do not apprehend that any one, if a longer 
life were granted to him, would find it happier. There is 
nothing more agreeable to a man than prudence, which old 
age most certainly bestows on a man, though it may strip 
him of everything else. But what age is long, or what is 
there at all long to a man ? Does not 

Old age, though unregarded, still attend 

On childhood's pastimes, as the cares of men ? 

But because there is nothing beyond old age, we call that 
long : all these things are said to be long or short, accord 
ing to the proportion of time they were given us for. 
Artistotle saith there is a kind of insect near the river 
Hypanis, which runs from a certain part of Europe into 
the Pontus, whose life consists but of one day ; those that 
die at the eighth hour die in full age; those who die 
when, the sun sets are very old, especially when the days 
are at the longest. Compare our longest life with eter 
nity, and we shall be found almost as short-lived as those 
little animals. 

XL. Let us, then, despise all these follies for what 
softer name can I give to such levities? and let us lay 
the foundation of our happiness in the strength and great 
ness of our minds, in a contempt and disregard of all 
earthly things, and in the practice of every virtue. For 
at present we arc enervated by the softness of our imagi- 


nations, so that, should we leave this world before the 
promises of our fortune-tellers are made good to us, we 
should think ourselves deprived of some great advantages, 
and seem disappointed and forlorn. But if, through life, 
we are in continual suspense, still expecting, still desiring, 
and are in continual pain and torture, good Gods ! how 
pleasant must that journey be which ends in security and 
ease ! How pleased am I with Theramenes ! Of how ex 
alted a soul does he appear ! For, although we never read 
of him without tears, yet that illustrious man is not to be 
lamented in his death, who, when he had been imprisoned 
by the command of the thirty tyrants, drank off, at one 
draught, as if he had been thirsty, the poisoned cup, and 
threw the remainder out of it with such force that it 
sounded as it fell; and then, on hearing the sound of the 
drops, he said, with a smile, " I drink this to the most ex 
cellent Critias," who had been his most bitter enemy ; for 
it is customary among the Greeks, at their banquets, to 
name the person to whom they intend to deliver the cup. 
This celebrated man was pleasant to the last, even when 
he had received the poison into his bowels, and truly fore 
told the death of that man whom he named when he drank 
the poison, and that death soon followed. Who that 
thinks death an evil could approve of the evenness of tem 
per in this great man at the instant of dying ? Socrates 
came, a few years after, to the same prison and the same 
cup by as great iniquity on the part of his judges as the 
tyrants displayed when they executed Theramenes. What 
a speech is that which Plato makes him deliver bqfore his 
judges, after they had condemned him to death ! 

XLI. "I am not without hopes, O judges, that it is a 
favorable circumstance for me that I am condemned to 
die ; for one of these two things must necessarily happen 
either that death will deprive me entirely of all sense, or 
else that, by dying, I shall go from hence into some other 
place ; wherefore, if all sense is utterly extinguished, and if 
death is like that sleep which sometimes is so undisturbed 
as to be even without the visions of dreams in that case, 
O ye good Gods! what gain is it to die? or what length 
of days can be imagined which would be preferable to 
such a ni^ht? And if the constant course of future time 


is to resemble that night, who is happier than I am ? But 
if, on the other hand, what is said be true, namely, that 
death is bnt a removal to those regions where the souls of 
the departed dwell, then that state must be more happy 
still to have escaped from those who call themselves 
judges, and to appear before such as are truly so Minos, 
Rhadamanthus, ^Eacus, Triptolemus and to meet with 
those who have lived with justice and probity I 1 Can this 
change of abode appear otherwise than great to you? 
What bounds can you set to the value of conversing with 
Orpheus, and MUSOMI.S, and Homer, and Hesiod? I would 
even, were it possible, willingly die often, in order to prove 
the certainty of what I speak of. What delight must it 
be to meet with Palamedes, and Ajax, and others, who 
have been betrayed by the iniquity of their judges ! Then, 
also, should I experience the wisdom of even that king of 
kings, who led his vast troops to Troy, and the prudence 
of Ulysses and Sisyphus : nor should I then be condemned 
for prosecuting my inquiries on such subjects in the same 
way in which I have done here on earth. And even you, 
my judges, you, I mean, who have voted for my acquittal, 
do not you fear death, for nothing bad can befall a good 
man, whether he be alive or dead ; nor are his concerns 
ever overlooked by the Gods ; nor in my case either has 
this befallen me by chance ; and I have nothing to charge 
those men with who accused or condemned me but the 
fact that they believed that they were doing me harm." 
In this manner he proceeded. There is no part of his 
speech which I admire more than his last words : " But it 
is time," says he, " for me now to go hence, that I may 
die ; and for you, that you may continue to live. Which 
condition of the two is the best, the immortal Gods know ; 
but I do not believe that any mortal man does." 

1 This idea is beautifully expanded by Byron : 

Yet if, as holiest men have deem'd, there be 

A land of souls beyond that sable shore 

To shame the doctrine of the Saddncee 

And sophist, madly vain of dubious lore, 

How sweet it were" in concert to adore 

With those who made our mortal labors light, 

To hear each voice we fear'd to hear no more, 

Behold each mighty shade reveal'd to sight, 

The Baetriau, Samiau sage, and all who taught the right ! 

Childe HaroU, ii. 


XLII. Surely I would rather have had this man's soul 
than all the fortunes of those who sat in judgment on 
him ; although that very thing which he says no one ex 
cept the Gods know, namely, whether life or death is most 
preferable, he knows himself, for he had previously stated 
his opinion on it; but he maintained to the last that fa 
vorite maxim of his, of affirming nothing. And let us, 
too, adhere to this rule of not thinking anything an evil 
which is a general provision of nature; and let us assure 
ourselves, that if death is an evil, it is an eternal evil, for 
death seems to be the end of a miserable life ; but if death 
is a misery, there can be no end of that. But why do I 
mention Socrates, or Theramenes, men distinguished by the 
glory of virtue and wisdom ? when a certain Lacedemo 
nian, whose name is not so much as known, held death 
in such contempt, that, when led to it by the ephori, he 
bore a cheerful and pleasant countenance; and, when he 
was asked by one of his enemies whether he despised the 
laws of Lycurgus, " On the contrary," answered he, "I am 
greatly obliged to him, for he has amerced me in a fine 
which I can pay without borrowing, or taking up money 
at interest." This was a man worthy of Sparta. And I 
am almost persuaded of his innocence because of the 
greatness of his soul. Our own city has produced many 
such. But why should I name generals, and other men 
of high rank, when Cato could write that legions have 
marched with alacrity to that place from whence they 
never expected to return? With no less greatness of 
soul fell the Lacedemonians at Thermopylae, on whom Si- 
monides wrote the following epitaph : 

Go, stranger, tell the Spartans, here we lie, 
Who to support their laws durst boldly die. 1 

What was it that Leonidas, their general, said to them ? 
"March on with courage, my Lacedemonians. To-night, 
perhaps, we shall sup in the regions below." This was a 
brave nation while the laws of Lycurgus were in force. 
One of them, when a Persian had said to him in conversa- 

1 The epitaph in the original is : 


lion, " We shall hide the sun from youv sight by the num 
ber of our arrows and darts," replied, " We shall fight, 
then, in the shade." Do I talk of their men ? How great 
was that Lacedaemonian woman, who had sent her son to 
battle, and when she heard that he was slain, said, "I bore 
him for that purpose, that you might have a man who 
durst die for his country !" However, it is a matter of 
notoriety that the Spartans were bold and hardy, for the 
discipline of a republic has great influence. 

XLIII. What, then, have we not reason to admire 
Theodoras the Cyrenean, a philosopher of no small dis 
tinction, who, when Lysimachus threatened to crucify him, 
bade him keep those menaces for his courtiers? "To 
Theodoras it makes no difference whether he rot in the 
air or underground." By which saying of the philoso 
pher I am reminded to say something of the custom of 
funerals and sepulture, and of funeral ceremonies, which 
is, indeed, not a difficult subject, especially if we recollect 
what has been before said about insensibility. The opin 
ion of Socrates respecting this matter is clearly stated in 
the book which treats of his death, of which we have al 
ready said so much ; for when he had discussed the im 
mortality of the soul, and when the time of his dying was 
approaching rapidly, being asked by Criton how he would 
be buried, " I have taken a great deal of pains," saith he, 
" my friends, to no purpose, for I have not convinced our 
Criton that I shall fly from hence, and leave no part of 
me behind. Notwithstanding, Criton, if you can overtake 
me, wheresoever you get hold of me, bury me as you 
please: but believe me, none of you will be able to catch 
me when I have flown away from hence." That was ex 
cellently said, inasmuch as he allows his friend to do as 
he pleased, and yet shows his indifference about anything 
of this kind. Diogenes was rougher, though of the same 
opinion ; but in his character of a Cynic he expressed him 
self in a somewhat harsher manner ; he ordered himself to 
be thrown anywhere without being buried. And when his 
friends replied, " What ! to the birds and beasts ?" " By no 
means," saith he; "place my staff near me, that I may 
drive them away." " How can you do that," they answer, 
" for you will not perceive them ?" " How am I then in- 


jured by being torn by those animals, if I have no sensa 
tion?" Anaxagoras, when he was at the point of death 
at Lampsacus, and was asked by his friends, whether, if 
anything should happen to him, he would not choose to 
be carried to ClazomenaB, his country, made this excellent 
answer, " There is," says he, " no occasion for that, for 
all places are at an equal distance from the infernal re 
gions." There is one thing to be observed with respect 
to the whole subject of burial, that it relates to the body, 
whether the soul live or die. Now, with regard to the 
body, it is clear that, whether the soul live or die, that has 
no sensation. 

XLIV. But all things are full of errors. Achilles drags 
Hector, tied to his chariot; he thinks, I suppose, he tears 
his flesh, and that Hector feels the pain of it ; therefore, 
he avenges himself on him, as he imagines. But Hecuba 
bewails this as a sore misfortune : 

I saw (a dreadful sight) great Hector slain, 
Dragg'd at Achilles' car along the plain. 

What Hector ? or how long will he be Hector ? Accius 
is better in this, and Achilles, too, is sometimes reasonable : 

I Hector's body to his sire convey 'd, 
Hector I sent to the infernal shade. 

It was not Hector that you dragged along, but a body that 
had been Hector's. Here another starts from underground, 
and will not suffer his mother to sleep : 

To thee I call, my once-loved parent, hear, 
Nor longer with thy sleep relieve thy care ; 
Thine eye which pities not is closed arise ; 
Ling'ring I wait the unpaid obsequies. 

"When these verses are 'sung with a slow and melancholy 
tune, so as to affect the whole theatre with sadness, one 
can scarce help thinking those unhappy that are unburied : 

Ere the devouring dogs and hungry vultures 

He is afraid he shall not have the use of his limbs so well 
if they are torn to pieces, but is under no such apprehen 
sions if they are burned : 


Nor leave my naked bones, my poor remains, 
To shameful violence and bloody stains. 

I do not understand what he could fear who could pour 
forth such excellent verses to the sound of the flute. We 
must, therefore, adhere to this, that nothing is to be re 
garded after we are dead, though many people revenge 
themselves on their dead enemies. Thyestes pours forth 
several curses in some good lines of Ennius, praying, first 
of all, that Atreus may perish by a shipwreck, which is 
certainly a very terrible thing, for such a death is not free 
from very grievous sensations. Then follow these un 
meaning expressions : 


_On the sharp rock his mangled carcass lie, 
His entrails torn, to hungry birds a prey ! 
May he convulsive writhe his bleeding side, 
And with his clotted gore the stones be dyed ! 

The rocks themselves were not more destitute of feeling 
than he who was hanging to them by his side; though 
Thyestes imagines he is wishing him the greatest torture. 
It would be torture, indeed, if he were sensible ; but as ho 
is not, it can be none ; then how very unmeaning is this : 

Let him, still hovering o'er the Stygian wave, 
Ne'er reach the body's peaceful port, the grave ! 

You see under what mistaken notions all this is said. He 
imagines the body has its haven, and that the dead are at 
rest in their graves. Pelops was greatly to blame in not 
having informed and taught his son what regard was due 
to everything. 

XLV. But what occasion is there to animadvert on the 
opinions of individuals, when we may observe whole na 
tions to fall into all sorts of errors? The Egyptians em 
balm their dead, and keep them in their houses ; the Per 
sians dress them over with wax, and then bury them, that 
they may preserve their bodies as long as possible. It is 
customary with the Magi to bury none of their order, un 
less they have been first torn by wild beasts. In Hyrca- 
nia, the people maintain dogs for the public use; the no 
bles have their own and we know that they have a good 
breed of dogs; but every one, according to his ability, 



provides himself with some, in order to be torn by them ; 
and they hold that to be the best kind of interment. Chry- 
si]>j>us, who is curious in all kinds of historical facts, has 
collected many other things of this kind ; but some of them 
are so offensive as not to admit of being related. All that 
has been said of burying is not worth our regard with re 
spect to ourselves, though it is not to be neglected as to 
our friends, provided we are thoroughly aware that the 
dead are insensible. But the living, indeed, should con 
sider what is due to custom and opinion ; only they should 
at the same time consider that the dead are noways inter 
ested in it. But death truly is then met with the greatest 
tranquillity when the dying man can comfort himself with 
his own praise. No one dies too soon who has finished 
the course of perfect virtue. I myself have known many 
occasions when I have seemed in danger of immediate 
death ; oh ! how I wish it had come to me ! for I have 
gained nothing by the delay. I had gone over and over 
again the duties of life ; nothing remained but to contend 
with fortune. If reason, then, cannot sufficiently fortify 
us to enable us to feel a contempt for death, at all events 
let our past life prove that we have lived long enough, and 
even longer than was necessary; for notwithstanding the 
deprivation of sense, the dead are not without that good 
which peculiarly belongs to them, namely, the praise and 
glory which they have acquired, even though they are not 
sensible of it. For although there be nothing in glory to 
make it desirable, yet it follows virtue as its shadow ; and 
the genuine judgment of the multitude on good men, if 
ever they form any, is more to their own praise than of 
any real advantage to the dead. Yet I cannot say, how 
ever it may be received, that Lycurgus and Solon have no 
glory from their laws, and from the political constitution 
which they established in their country; or that Themis- 
tocles and Epaminondas have not glory from their martial 

XLVI. For Neptune shall sooner bury Salamis itself 
with his waters than the memory of the trophies gained 
there ; and the Boeotian Leuctra shall perish sooner than 
the glory of that great battle. And longer still shall fame 
be before it deserts Curius, and Fabricius, and Calatinus, 


and the two Scipios, and the two African!, and Maxirnus, 
and Marcellus, and Paulus, and Cato, and LaBlius, and num 
berless other heroes ; and whoever has caught any resem 
blance of them, not estimating it by common fame, but by 
the real applause of good men, may with confidence, when 
the occasion requires, approach death, on which we are 
sure that even if the chief good is not continued, at least 
no evil is. Such a man would even wish to die while in 
prosperity ; for all the favors that could be heaped on him 
would not be so agreeable to him as the loss of them would 
be painful. That speech of the Lacedemonian seems to 
have the same meaning, who, when Diagoras the Rhodian, 
who had himself been a conqueror at the Olympic games, 
saw two of his own sons conquerors there on the same 
day, approached the old man, and, congratulating him, said, 
" You should die now, Diagoras, for no greater happiness 
can possibly await you." The Greeks look on these as 
great things ; perhaps they think too highly of them, or, 
rather, they did so then. And so he who said this to Di 
agoras, looking on it as something very glorious, that three 
men out of one family should have been conquerors there, 
thought it could answer no purpose to him to continue 
any longer in life, where he could only be exposed to a re 
verse of fortune. 

I might have given you a sufficient answer, as it seems 
to me, on this point, in a few words, as you had allowed 
the dead were not exposed to any positive evil ; but I have 
spoken at greater length on the subject for this reason, be 
cause this is our greatest consolation in the losing and be 
wailing of our friends. For we ought to bear with mod 
eration any grief which arises from ourselves, or is endured 
on our own account, lest we should seem to be too much 
influenced by self-love. But should we suspect our de 
parted friends to be under those evils, which they are gen 
erally imagined to be, and to be sensible of them, then such 
a suspicion would give us intolerable pain ; and according 
ly I wished, for my own sake, to pluck up this opinion by 
the roots, and on that account I have been perhaps some 
what more prolix than was necessary. 

XL VII. A. More prolix than was necessary ? Certain 
ly not, in my opinion. For I was induced, by the former 


part of your speech, to wish to die ; but, by the latter, 
sometimes not to be unwilling, and at others to be wholly 
indifferent about it. But the effect of your whole argu 
ment is, that I am convinced that death ought not to be 
classed among the evils. 

M. Do you, then, expect that I am to give you a regu 
lar peroration, like the rhetoricians, or shall I forego that 

A. I would not have you give over an art which you 
have set off to such advantage ; and you were in the right 
to do so, for, to speak the truth, it also has set you off. 
But what is that peroration? For I should be glad to 
hear it, whatever it is. 

M. It is customary, in the schools, to produce the opin 
ions of the immortal Gods on death ; nor are these opin 
ions the fruits of the imagination alone of the lecturers, 
but they have the authority of Herodotus and many oth 
ers. Cleobis and Biton are the first they mention, sons of 
the Argive priestess; the story is a well-known one. As it 
was necessary that she should be drawn in a chariot to a 
certain annual sacrifice, which was solemnized at a temple 
some considerable distance from the town, and the cattle 
that were to draw the chariot had not arrived, those two 
young men whom I have just mentioned, pulling off their 
garments, and anointing their bodies with oil, harnessed 
themselves to the yoke. And in this manner the priestess 
was conveyed to the temple ; and when the chariot had ar 
rived at the proper place, she is said to have entreated the 
Goddess to bestow on them, as a reward for their piety, 
the greatest gift that a God could confer on man. And 
the young men, after having feasted with their mother, fell 
asleep ; and in the morning they were found dead. Tro- 
phonius and Agamedes are said to have put up the same 
petition, for they, having built a temple to Apollo at Del 
phi, offered supplications to the God, and desired of him 
some extraordinary reward for their care and labor, par 
ticularizing nothing, but asking for whatever was best for 
.men. Accordingly, Apollo signified to them that he would 
bestow it on them in three days, and on the third day at 
daybreak they were found dead. And so they say that 
this was a formal decision pronounced by that God to 


whom the rest of the deities have assigned the province of 
divining with an accuracy superior to that of all the rest. 
XL VIII. There is also a story told of Silenus, who, 
when taken prisoner by Midas, is said to have made him 
this present for his ransom namely, that he informed 
him 1 that never to have been born was by far the great 
est blessing that could happen to man ; and that the next 
best thing was to die very soon ; which very opinion Eu 
ripides make* use of in his Cresphontes, saying, 

When man is born, 'tis fit, with solemn show, 
We speak our sense of his approaching woe ; 
With other gestures and a different eye, 
Proclaim our pleasure when he's bid to die. 3 

There is something like this in Grantor's Consolation ; for 
he says that Terina3us of Elysia, when he was bitterly la 
menting the loss of his son, came to a place of divination 
to be informed why he was visited with so great affliction, 
and received in his tablet these three verses : 

Thou fool, to murmur at Euthynous' death! 
The blooming youth to fate resigns his breath : 
The fate, whereon your happiness depends, 
At once the parent and the son befriends. 3 

On these and similar authorities they affirm that the ques 
tion has been determined by the Gods. Nay, more ; Al- 
cidamas, an ancient rhetorician of the very highest reputa 
tion, wrote even in praise of death, which he endeavored 
to establish by an enumeration of the evils of life; and 
his Dissertation has a great deal of eloquence in it; but 

1 This was expressed in the Greek verses, 

'ApX'l* fit'v fit] Qvvat iirtx9ovioi<Ttv aptarov, 
ipiivra 6' OTTUK wK.tara TruAar 'Aiduo vepriaai' 

which by some authors are attributed to Homer. 

4 This is the first fragment of the Cresphontes. Ed. Var. vji., p. 594. 

rst fragment ot tne urespnontes. .t 

"Eifi -nap r'ljuur <rv\\o-</ov TfoiovfJ.ivom 
Tov divv-ra iipnvftv, fit o<r' epVfTai Kami. 
T ' A* T fi ' u ' ' ' 

\aipo\nat eutpri/JLCHVTa? eKitffiirftv &6p.tav 

* The Greek verses are quoted by Plutarch : 

"Hirov vrjirie, |Ai'#io< ipptvft uvdpiav 

OVK n" Tfp ^taeiv Ka\6v avrw ofnt 


ho was unacquainted with the more refined arguments of 
the philosophers. By the orators, indeed, to die for our 
country is always considered not only as glorious, but 
even as happy : they go back as far as Erechtheus, 1 whose 
very daughters underwent death, for the safety of their 
fellow-citizens : they instance Codrus, who threw himself 
hito the midst of his enemies, dressed like a common man, 
that his royal robes might not betray him, because the 
oracle had declared the Athenians conquerors, if their 
king was slain. MenoBceus* is not overlooked by them, 
who, in compliance with the injunctions of an oracle, 
freely shed his blood for his country. Iphigenia order 
ed herself to be conveyed to Aulis, to be sacrificed, that 
her blood might be the cause of spilling that of her ene 

XLIX. From hence they proceed to instances of a fresh 
er date. Harmodius and Aristogiton are in everybody's 
mouth ; the memory of Leonidas the Lacedaemonian and 
Epaminondas the Theban is as fresh as ever. Those phi 
losophers were not acquainted with the many instances in 
our country to give a list of whom would take up too 
much time who, we see, considered death desirable as 
long as it was accompanied with honor. But, notwith 
standing this is the correct view of the case, we must use 
much persuasion, speak as if we were endued with some 
higher authority, in order to bring men to begin to wish 
to die, or cease to be afraid of death. For if that last day 
does not occasion an entire extinction, but a change of 
abode only, what can be more desirable ? And if it, on 
the other hand, destroys, and absolutely puts an end to us, 
what can be preferable to the having a deep sleep fall 
on us, in the midst of the fatigues of life, and being thus 
overtaken, to sleep to eternity ? And, should this really 

1 This refers to the story that when Eumolpus, the son of Neptune, 
whose assistance the Eleusinians had called in against the Athenians, had 
been slain by the Athenians, an oracle demanded the sacrifice of one of 
the daughters of Erechtheus, the King of Athens. And when one was 
drawn by lot, the others voluntarily accompanied her to death. 

* Menoaceus was son of Creon, and in the war of the Argives against 
Thebes, Teresias declared that the Thebans should conquer if Menceceus 
would sacrifice himself for his country ; and accordingly he killed him 
self outside the gates of Thebes. 


be the case, then Ennius's language is more consistent 
with wisdom than Solon's ; for our Ennius says, 

Let none bestow upon my passing bier 
One needless sigh or unavailing tear. 

But the wise Solon says, 

Let me not unlamented die, but o'er my bier 
Burst forth the tender sigh, the friendly tear. 1 

But let us, if indeed it should be our fate to know the 
time which is appointed by the Gods for us to die, prepare 
ourselves for it with a cheerful and grateful mind, think 
ing ourselves like men who are delivered from a jail, and 
released from their fetters, for the purpose of going back 
to our eternal habitation, which may be more emphatically 
called our own ; or else to be divested of all sense and 
trouble. If, on the other hand, we should have no notice 
given us of this decree, yet let us cultivate such a disposi 
tion as to look on that formidable hour of death as happy 
for us, though shocking to our friends ; and let us never 
imagine anything to be an evil which is an appointment 
of the immortal Gods, or of nature, the common parent of 
all. For it is not by hazard or without design that we 
have been born and situated as wo have. On the contrary, 
beyond all doubt there is a certain power which consults 
the happiness of human nature ; and this would neither 
have produced nor provided for a being which, after hav 
ing gone through the labors of life, was to fall into eternal 
misery by death. Let us rather infer that we have a re 
treat and haven prepared for us, which I wish we could 
crowd all sail and arrive at ; but though the winds should 
not serve, and we should be driven back, yet we shall to a 
certainty arrive at that point eventually, though somewhat 
later. But how can that be miserable for one which all 
must of necessity undergo ? I have given you a perora 
tion, that you might not think I had overlooked or neglect 
ed anything. 

A. I am persuaded you have not; and, indeed, that 
peroration has confirmed me. 

1 The Greek is, 

(ii]&e noi uKXaiKTTOf 6<iva-rot juoXoi, a\\a <f>i\oiat 
Trcm/rrui/u Oavuiv u\-ycu Kui arova%at. 


M. I am glad it has had that effect. But it is now 
time to consult our health. To-morrow, and all the time 
we continue in this Tusculan villa, let us consider this sub 
ject; and especially those portions of it which may ease 
our pain, alleviate our fears, and lessen our desires, which 
is the greatest advantage we can reap from the whole of 



I. NEOPTOLEMUS, in Ennius, indeed, says that the study 
of philosophy was expedient for him; but that it re 
quired limiting to a few subjects, for that to give himself 
up entirely to it was what he did not approve of. And 
for my part, Brutus, I am perfectly persuaded that it is 
expedient for me to philosophize ; for what can I do bet 
ter, especially as I have no regular occupation ? But I 
am not for limiting my philosophy to a few subjects, as 
he does; for philosophy is a matter in which it is diffi 
cult to acquire a little knowledge without acquainting 
yourself with many, or all its branches, nor can you well 
take a few subjects without selecting them out of a great 
number; nor can any one, who has acquii'ed the knowl 
edge of a few points, avoid endeavoring with the same 
eagerness to understand more. But still, in a busy life, 
and in one mainly occupied with military matters, such as 
that of Neoptolemus was at that time, even that limited 
degree of acquaintance with philosophy may be of great 
use, and may yield fruit, not perhaps so plentiful as a 
thorough knowledge of the whole of philosophy, but yet 
such as in some degree may at times deliver us from the 
dominion of our desires, our sorrows, and our fears; just 
as the effect of that discussion which we lately maintained 
in my Tusculan villa seemed to be that a great contempt 
of death was engendered, which contempt is of no small 
efficacy towards delivering the mind from fear ; for who 
ever dreads what cannot be avoided can by no means live 
with a quiet and tranquil mind. But he who is under no 


fear of death, not only because it is a thing absolutely in 
evitable, but also because he is persuaded that death itself 
hath nothing terrible in it, provides himself with a very 
great resource towards a happy life. However, I am not 
ignorant that many will argue strenuously against us; 
and, indeed, that is a thing which can never be avoided, 
except by abstaining from writing at all. For if my 
Orations, which were addressed to the judgment and ap 
probation of the people (for that is a popular art, and the 
object of oratory is popular applause), have been criti 
cised by some people who are inclined to withhold their 
praise from everything but what they are persuaded they 
can attain to themselves, and who limit their ideas of 
good speaking by the hopes which they conceive of what 
they themselves may attain to, and who declare, when 
they are overwhelmed with a flow of words and sen 
tences, that they prefer the utmost poverty of thought 
and expression to that plenty and copiousness (from 
which arose the Attic kind of oratory, which they who pro 
fessed it were strangers to, though they have now been 
some time silenced, and laughed out of the very courts of 
justice), what may I not expect, when at present I cannot 
have the least countenance from the people by whom I 
used to be upheld before? For philosophy is satisfied 
with a few judges, and of her own accord industriously 
avoids the multitude, who are jealous of it, and utterly 
displeased with it ; so that, should any one undertake to 
cry down the whole of it, he would have the people on his 
side ; while, if he should attack that school which I par 
ticularly profess, he would have great assistance from 
those of the other philosophers. 

II. But I have answered the detractors of philosophy 
in general, in my Hortensius. And what I had to say in 
favor of the Academics, is, I think, explained with suffi 
cient accuracy in my four books of the Academic Ques 

But yet I am so far from desiring that no one should 
write against me, that it is what I most earnestly wish ; 
for philosophy would never have been in such esteem in 
Greece itself, if it had not been for the strength which it 
acquired from the contentions and disputations of the 


most learned men ; and therefore I recommend all men 
who have abilities to follow my advice to snatch this art 
also from declining Greece, and to transport it to this 
city; as our ancestors by their study and industry have 
imported all their other arts which were worth having. 
Thus the praise of oratory, raised from a low degree, is 
arrived at such perfection that it must now decline, and, 
as is the nature of all things, verge to its dissolution in a 
very short time. Let philosophy, then, derive its birth in 
Latin language from this time, and let us lend it our as 
sistance, and bear patiently to be contradicted and re 
futed ; and although those men may dislike such treat 
ment who are bound and devoted to certain predeter 
mined opinions, and are under such obligations to main 
tain them that they are forced, for the sake of consist 
ency, to adhere to them even though they do not them 
selves wholly approve of them ; we, on the other hand, 
who pursue only probabilities, and who cannot go beyond 
that which seems really likely, can confute others with 
out obstinacy, and are prepared to be confuted ourselves 
without resentment. Besides, if these studies are ever 
brought home to us, we shall not want even Greek libra 
ries, in which there is an infinite number of books, by 
reason of the multitude of authors among them ; for it is 
a common practice with many to repeat the same things 
which have been written by others, which serves no pur 
pose but to stuff their shelves ; and this will be our case, 
too, if many apply themselves to this study. 

III. But let us excite those, if possible, who have had 
a liberal education, and are masters of an elegant style, 
and who philosophize with reason and method. 

For there is a certain class of them who would willing 
ly be called philosophers, whose books in our language 
are said to be numerous, and which I do not despise ; for, 
indeed, I never read them : but still, because the authors 
themselves declare that they write without any regularity, 
or method, or elegance, or ornament, I do not care to read 
what must be so void of entertainment. There is no 
one in the least acquainted with literature who does not 
know the style and sentiments of that school; wherefore, 
since they are at no pains to express themselves well, I 


do not see why they should be read by anybody except 
by one another. Let them read them, if they please, who 
are of the same opinions ; for in the same manner as all 
men read Plato and the other Socratics, with those who 
sprung from them, even those who do not agree with 
their opinions, or are very indifferent about them; but 
scarcely any one except their own disciples take Epicurus 
or Metrodorus into their hands ; so they alone read these 
Latin books who think that the arguments contained in 
them are sound. But, in my opinion, whatever is pub 
lished should be recommended to the reading of every 
man of learning; and though we may not succeed in this 
ourselves, yet nevertheless we must be sensible that this 
ought to be the aim of every writer. And on this ac 
count I have always been pleased with the custom of the 
Peripatetics and Academics, of disputing on both sides of 
the question ; not solely from its being the only method 
of disco vei'ing what is probable on every subject, but also 
because it affords the greatest scope for practising elo 
quence; a method that Aristotle first made use of, and 
afterward all the Aristotelians ; and in our own memory 
Philo, whom we have often heard, appointed one time to 
treat of the precepts of the rhetoricians, and another for 
philosophical discussion, to which custom I was brought 
to conform by my friends at my Tusculum ; and accord 
ingly our leisure time was spent in this manner. And 
therefore, as yesterday before noon we applied ourselves 
to speaking, and in the afternoon went down into the 
Academy, the discussions which were held there I have 
acquainted you with, not in the manner of a narration, but 
in almost the very same words which were employed in 
the debate. 

IV. The discourse, then, was introduced in this manner 
while we were walking, and it was commenced by some 
such an opening as this : 

A. It is not to be expressed how much I was delighted, 
or rather edified, by your discourse of yesterday. For 
although I am conscious to myself that I have never been 
too fond of life, yet at times, when I have considered that 
there would be an end to this life, and that I must some 
time or other part with all its good things, a certain dread 


and uneasiness used to intrude itself on my thoughts; 
but now, believe me, I am so freed from that kind of un 
easiness that there is nothing that I think less worth any 

M. I am not at all surprised at that, for it is the effect 
of philosophy, which is the medicine of our souls ; it ban 
ishes all groundless apprehensions, frees us from desires, 
and drives away fears : but it has not the same influence 
over all men ; it is of very great influence when it falls in 
with a disposition well adapted to it. For not only does 
Fortune, as the old proverb says, assist the bold, but rea 
son does so in a still greater degree ; for it, by certain 
precepts, as it were, strengthens even courage itself. You 
were born naturally great and soaring, and with a con 
tempt for all things which pertain to man alone; there 
fore a discourse against death took easy possession of a 
brave soul. But do you imagine that these same argu 
ments have any force with those very persons who have 
invented, and canvassed, and published them, excepting in 
deed some veiy few particular persons ? For how few 
philosophers will you meet with whose life and manners 
arc conformable to the dictates of reason ! who look on 
their profession, not as a means of displaying their learn 
ing, but as a rule for their own pi'actice !' who follow their 
own precepts, and comply with their own decrees ! You 
may see some of such levity and such vanity, that it would 
have been better for them to have been ignorant ; some 
covetous of money, some others eager for glory, many 
slaves to their lusts ; so that their discourses and their 
actions are most strangely at variance ; than which noth 
ing in my opinion can be more unbecoming : for just as 
if one who professed to teach grammar should speak with 
impropriety, or a master of music sing out of tune, such 
conduct has the worst appearance in these men, because 
they blunder in the very particular with which they pro 
fess that they are well acquainted. So a philosopher who 
errs in the conduct of his life is the more infamous be 
cause he is erring in the very thing which he pretends to 
teach, and, while he lays down rules to regulate life by, is 
irregular in his own life. 

V. A. Should this be the case, is it not to be feared that 


you arc dressing up philosophy in false colors ? For what 
stronger argument can there be that it is of little use than 
that some very profound philosophers live in a discredita 
ble manner? 

M. That, indeed, is no argument at all, for as all the 
fields which are cultivated are not fruitful (and this senti 
ment of Accius is false, and asserted without any founda 

The ground you sow on is of small avail ; 

To yield a crop good seed can never fail), 

it is not every mind which has been properly cultivated 
that produces fruit; and, to go on with the comparison, as 
a field, although it may be naturally fruitful, cannot pro 
duce a crop without dressing, so neither can the mind 
without education ; such is the weakness of either with 
out the other. Whereas philosophy is the culture of the 
mind : this it is which plucks up vices by the roots ; pre 
pares the mind for the receiving of seeds ; commits them 
to it, or, as I may say, sows them, in the hope that, when 
come to maturity, they may produce a plentiful harvest. 
Let us proceed, then, as we began. Say, if you please, 
what shall be the subject of our disputation. 

A. I look on pain to be the greatest of all evils. 

M. What, even greater than infamy ? 

A. I dare not indeed assert that ; and I blush to think 
I am so soon driven from my ground. 

M. You would hate had greater reason for blushing 
had you persevered in it ; for what is so unbecoming 
what can appear worse to you, than disgrace, wickedness, 
immorality? To avoid which, what pain is there which 
we ought not (I will not say to avoid shirking, but even) 
of our own accord to encounter, and undergo, and even to 
court ? 

A. I am entirely of that opinion ; but, notwithstanding 
that pain is not the greatest evil, yet surely it is an evil. 

M. Do you perceive, then, how much of the terror of 
pain you have given up on a small hint? 

A. I see that plainly; but I should be glad to give up 
more of it. 

M. I will endeavor to make you do so; but it is a great 


undertaking, and I must have a disposition on your part 
which is not inclined to offer any obstacles. 

A. You shall have such : for as I behaved yesterday, so 
now I will follow reason wherever she leads. 

VI. M. First, then. I will speak of the weakness of many 
philosophers, and those, too, of various sects ; the head of 
whom, both in authority and antiquity, was Aristippus, 
the pupil of Socrates, who hesitated not to say that pain 
was the greatest of all evils. And after him Epicurus 
easily gave in to this effeminate and enervated doctrine. 
After him Hieronymus the Rhodian said, that to be with 
out pain was the chief good, so great an evil did pain ap 
pear to him to be. The rest, with the exceptions of Zeno, 
Aristo, Pyrrho, were pretty much of the same opinion 
that you were of just now that it was indeed an evil, 
but that there were many worse. When, then, nature her 
self, and a certain generous feeling of virtue, at once pre 
vents you from persisting in the assertion that pain is the 
chief evil, and when you were driven from such an opin 
ion when disgrace was contrasted with pain, shall philoso 
phy, the preceptress of life, cling to this idea for so many 
ages? What duty of life, what praise, what reputation, 
would be of such consequence that a man should be desir 
ous of gaining it at the expense of submitting to bodily 
pain, when he has persuaded himself that pain is the 
greatest evil ? On the other side, what disgrace, what ig 
nominy, would he not submit to that he might avoid pain, 
when persuaded that it was the greatest of evils? Be 
sides, what person, if it be only true that pain is the great 
est of evils, is not miserable, not only when he actually 
feels pain, but also whenever he is aware that it may be 
fall him. And who is there whom pain may not befall ? 
So that it is clear that there is absolutely no one who can 
possibly be happy. Metrodorus, indeed, thinks that man 
perfectly happy whose body is free from all disorders, and 
who has an assurance that it will always continue so ; but 
who is there who can be assured of that ? 

VII. But Epicurus, indeed, says such things that it 
should seem that his design was only to make people 
laugh ; for he affirms somewhere that if a wise man were 
to be burned or put to the torture you expect, perhaps, 


that he is going to say he would bear it, he would support 
himself under it with resolution, he would not yield to it 
(and that, by Hercules ! would be very commendable, and 
worthy of that very Hercules whom I have just invoked) : 
but even this will not satisfy Epicurus, that robust and 
hardy man ! No ; his wise man, even if he were in Phal- 
aris's bull, would say, How sweet it is ! how little do I 
regard it ! What, sweet ? Is it not sufficient, if it is not 
disagreeable? But those very men who deny pain to be 
an evil are not in the habit of saying that it is agreeable 
to any one to be tormented; they rather say that it is 
cruel, or hard to bear, afflicting, unnatural, but still not an 
evil : while this man who says that it is the only evil, and 
the very worst of all evils, yet thinks that a, wise man 
would pronounce it sweet. I do not require of you to 
speak of pain in the same words which Epicurus uses a 
man, as you know, devoted to pleasure : he may make no 
difference, if he pleases, between Phalaris's bull, and his 
own bed ; but I cannot allow the wise man to be so indif 
ferent about pain. If he bears it with courage, it is suffi 
cient: that he should rejoice in it, I do not expect; for 
pain is, beyond all question, sharp, bitter, against nature, 
hard to submit to and to bear. Observe Philoctetes : We 
may allow him to lament, for he saw Hercules himself 
groaning loudly through extremity of pain on Mount QEta. 
The arrows with which Hercules presented him were then 
no consolation to him, when 

The viper's bite, impregnating his veins 
With poison, rack'd him with its bitter pains. 

And therefore he cries out, desiring help, and wishing to 

Oh that some friendly hand its aid would lend, 
My body from this rock's vast height to send 
Into the briny deep ! I'm all on fire, 
And by this fatal wound must soon expire. 

It is hard to say that the man who was obliged to cry out 
in this manner was not oppressed with evil, and great evil, 

VIII. But let us observe Hercules himself, who was sub 
dued by pain at the very time when he was on the point 


of attaining immortality by death. What words does 
Sophocles here put in his mouth, in his Trachiniae? who, 
when Dcianira had put upon him a tunic dyed in the cen 
taur's blood, and it stuck to his entrails, says, 

What tortures I endure no words can tell, 
Far greater these, than those which erst befell 
From the dire terror of thy consort, Jove 
E'en stern Eurysthetis' dire command above ; 
This of thy daughter, CEneus, is the fruit, 
Beguiling me with her envenom'd suit, 
"Whose close embrace doth on my entrails prey, 
Consuming life ; my lungs forbid to play ; 
The blood forsakes my veins ; my manly heart 
Forgets to beat ; enervated, each part 
Neglects its office, while my fatal doom 
Proceeds ignobly from the weaver's loom. 
The hand of foe ne'er hurt me, nor the fierce 
Giant issuing from his parent earth. 
Ne'er could the Centaur such a blow enforce, 
, No barbarous foe, nor all the Grecian force ; 
This arm no savage people could withstand, 
Whose realms I traversed to reform the land. 
Thus, though I ever bore a manly heart, 
I fall a victim to a woman's art. 

IX. Assist, my son, if thoti that name dost hear, 
My groans preferring to thy mother's tear : 
Convey her here, if, in thy pious heart, 
Thy mother shares not an unequal part : 
Proceed, be bold, thy fathers fate bemoan, 
Nations will join, you will not weep alone. 
Oh, what a sight is this same briny source, 
Unknown before, through all my labors' course ! 
That virtue, which could brave each toil but late, 
With woman's weakness now bewails its fate. 
Approach, my son ; behold thy father laid, 
A wither'd carcass that implores thy aid; 
Let all behold: and thou, imperious Jove, 
On me direct thy lightning from above : 
Now all its force the poison doth assume, 
And my burnt entrails with its flame consume. 
Crestfallen, unembraced, I now let fall 
Listless, those hands that lately conquer'd all ; 
When the Nema:an lion own'd their force, 
And he indignant fell a breathless corse; 
The serpent slew, of the Lernean lake, 
As did the Hydra of its force partake : 
By this, too, fell the Erymanthian boar : 
E'en Cerberus did his weak strength deplore. 


This sinewy arm did overcome with ease 
That dragon, guardian of the Golden Fleece. 
My many conquests let some others trace ; 
It's mine to say, I never knew disgrace. ' 

Can we, then, despise pain, when we see Hercules himself 
giving vent to his expressions of agony with such impa 
tience ? 

X. Let us see what JEschylus says, who was not only 
a poet, but a Pythagorean philosopher also, for that is the 
account which you have received of him; how doth he 
make Prometheus bear the pain he suffered for the Lem- 
nian theft, when he clandestinely stole away the celestial 
fire, and bestowed it on men, and was severely punished 
by Jupiter for the theft. Fastened to Mount Caucasus, 
he speaks thus : 

Thou heav'n-born race of Titans here fast bound, 
Behold thy brother ! As the sailors sound 
With care the bottom, and their ships confine 
To some safe shore, with anchor and with line ; 
So, by Jove's dread decree, the God of fire 
Confines me here the victim of Jove's ire. 
With baneful art his dire machine he shapes ; 
From such a God what mortal e'er escapes ? 
When each third day shall triumph o'er the night, 
Then doth the vulture, with his talons light, 
Seize on my entrails; which, in rav'nous guise, 
He preys on ! then with wing extended flies 
Aloft, and brushes with his plumes the gore : 
But when dire Jove my liver doth restore, 
Back he returns impetuous to his prey, 
Clapping his wings, he cuts th* ethereal way. 
Thus do I nourish with my blood this pest, 
Confined my arms, unable to contest ; 
Entreating only that in pity Jove 
Would take my life, and this cursed plague remove. 
But endless ages past unheai-d my moan, 
Sooner shall drops dissolve this very stone. * 

And therefore it scarcely seems possible to avoid calling 
a man who is suffering, miserable ; and if he is miserable, 
then pain is an evil. 

1 Soph. Trach. 1047. 

a The lines quoted by Cicero here appear to have come from the Latin 
play of Prometheus by Accius ; the ideas are borrowed, rather than trans 
lated, from the Prometheus of ^schylus. 



XI. A. Hitherto you arc on my side ; I will see to that 
by -and -by; and, in the mean while, whence are those 
verses ? I do not remember them. 

M. I will inform you, for you are in the right to ask. 
Do you see that I have much leisure ? 

A. What, then? 

M. I imagine, when you were at Athens, you attended 
frequently at the schools of the philosophers. 

A. Yes, and with great pleasure. 

M. You observed, then, that though none of them at 
that time were very eloquent, yet they used to mix verses 
with their harangues. 

A. Yes, and particularly Dionysius the Stoic used to 
employ a great many. 

M. You say right; but they were quoted without any 
appropriateness or elegance. But our friend Philo used 
to give a few select lines and well adapted ; and in imita 
tion of him, ever since I took a fancy to this kind of el 
derly declamation, I have been very fond of quoting our 
poets ; and where I cannot be supplied from them, I trans 
late from the Greek, that the Latin language may not want 
any kind of ornament in this kind of disputation. 

But do you not see how much harm is done by poets? 
They introduce the bravest men lamenting over their mis 
fortunes: they soften our minds; and they are, besides, so 
entertaining, that we do not only read them, but get them 
by heart. Thus the influence of the poets is added to our 
want of discipline at home, and our tender and delicate 
manner of living, so that between them they have deprived 
virtue of all its vigor and energy. Plato, therefore, was 
right in banishing them from his commonwealth, where he 
required the best morals, and the best form of govern 
ment. But we, who have all our learning from Greece, 
read and learn these works of theirs from our childhood ; 
.and look on this as a liberal and learned education. 

XII. But why are we angry with the poets ? We may 
find some philosophers, those masters of virtue, who have 
taught that pain was the greatest of evils. But you, young 
man, when you said but just now that it appeared so to 
you, upon being asked by me what appeared greater than 
infamy, gave up that opinion at a word. Suppose I ask 


Epicurus the same question. He will answer that a tri 
fling degree of pain is a greater evil than the greatest in 
famy ; for that there is no evil in infamy itself, unless 
attended with pain. What pain, then, attends Epicurus, 
when he says that very thing, that pain is the greatest 
evil! And yet nothing can be a greater disgrace to a phi 
losopher than to talk thus. Therefore, you allowed enough 
when you admitted that infamy appeared to you to be a 
greater evil than pain. And if you abide by this admis 
sion, you will see how far pain should be resisted ; and 
that our inquiry should be not so much whether pain be 
an evil, as how the mind may be fortified for resisting it. 
The Stoics infer from some petty quibbling arguments 
that it is no evil, as if the dispute were about a word, and 
not about the thing itself. Why do you impose upon me, 
Zeno? For when you deny what appears very dreadful 
to me to be an evil, I am deceived, and am at a loss to 
know why that which appears to me to be a most miser 
able thing should be no evil. The answer is, that nothing 
is an evil but what is base and vicious. You return to 
your trifling, for you do not remove what made me un 
easy. I know that pain is not vice you need not inform 
me of that : but show me that it makes no difference to 
me whether I am in pain or not. It has never anything 
to do, say you, with a happy life, for that depends upon 
virtue alone; but yet pain is to be avoided. If I ask, 
why? It is disagreeable, against nature, hard to bear, 
woful and afflicting. 

XIII. Here are many words to express that by so many 
different forms which we call by the single word evil. 
You are defining pain, instead of removing it, when you 
say, it is disagreeable, unnatural, scarcely possible to be 
endured or borne, nor are you wrong in saying so : but 
the man who vaunts himself in such a manner should not 
give way in his conduct, if it be true that nothing is good 
but what is honest, and nothing evil but what is disgrace 
ful. This would be wishing, not proving. This argu 
ment is a better one, and has more truth in it that all 
things which Nature abhors are to be looked upon as 
evil ; that those which she approves of are to be consider 
ed as good : for when this is admitted, and the dispute 


about words removed, that which they with reason em 
brace, and which we call honest, right, becoming, and 
sometimes include under the general name of virtue, ap 
pears so far superior to everything else that all other 
things which are looked upon as the gifts of fortune, or 
the good things of the body, seem trifling and insignifi 
cant ; and no evil whatever, nor all the collective body of 
evils together, appears to be compared to the evil of in 
famy. Wherefore, if, as you granted in the beginning, 
infamy is worse than pain, pain is certainly nothing ; for 
while it appears to you base and unmanly to groan, cry 
out, lament, or faint under pain ; while you cherish notions 
of probity, dignity, honor, and, keeping your eye on them, 
refrain yourself, pain will certainly yield to virtue, and, by 
the influence of imagination, will lose its whole force. 
For you must either admit that there is no such thing as 
virtue, or you must despise every kind of pain. Will you 
allow of such a virtue as prudence, without which no vir 
tue whatever can even be conceived ? What, then? Will 
that suffer you to labor and take pains to no purpose? 
Will temperance permit you to do anything to excess ? 
Will it be possible for justice to be maintained by one 
who through the force of pain discovers secrets, or betrays 
his confederates, or deserts many duties of life? Will 
you act in a manner consistently with courage, and its at 
tendants, greatness of soul, resolution, patience, and con 
tempt for all worldly things ? Can you hear yourself call 
ed a great man when you lie grovelling, dejected, and de 
ploring your condition with a lamentable voice; no one 
would call you even a man while in such a condition. 
You must therefore either abandon all pretensions to cour 
age, or else pain must be put out of the question. 

XIV. You know very well that, even though part of 
your Corinthian furniture were gone, the remainder might 
be safe without that; but if you lose one virtue (though 
virtue in reality cannot be lost), still if, I say, you should 
acknowledge that you were deficient in one, you would be 
stripped of all. Can you, then, call yourself a brave man, 
of a great soul, endued with patience and steadiness above 
the frowns of fortune ? or Philoctetes ? for I choose to in 
stance him, rather than yourself, for he certainly was not 


a brave man, who lay in his bed, which was watered with 
his tears, 

Whose groans, bewailings, and whose bitter cries, 
With grief incessant rent the very skies. 

I do not deny pain to be pain for were that the case, in 
what would courage consist? but I say it should be as 
suaged by patience, if there be such a thing as patience : 
if there be no such thing, why do we speak so in praise of 
philosophy? or why do we glory in its name? Does pain 
annoy us ? Let it sting us to the heart : if you are with 
out defensive armor, bare your throat to it; but if you 
are secured by Vulcanian armor, that is to say by resolu 
tion, resist it. Should you fail to do so, that guardian of 
your honor, your courage, will forsake and leave you. By 
the laws of Lycurgus, and by those which were given to 
the Cretans by Jupiter, or which Minos established under 
the direction of Jupiter, as the poets say, the youths of 
the State are trained by the practice of hunting, running, 
enduring hunger and thirst, cold and heat. The boys at 
Sparta are scourged so at the altars that blood follows the 
lash in abundance ; nay, sometimes, as I used to hear when 
I was there, they are whipped even to death ; and yet not 
one of them was ever hearjd to cry out, or so much as 
groan. What, then? Shall men not be able to bear what 
boys do ? and shall custom have such great force, and rea 
son none at all? 

XV. There is some difference between labor and pain ; 
they border upon one another, but still there is a certain 
difference between them. Labor is a certain exercise of 
the mind or body, in some employment or undertaking of 
serious trouble and importance; but pain is a sharp mo 
tion in the body, disagreeable to our senses. Both these 
feelings, the Greeks, whose language is more copious than 
ours, express by the common name of Ho^oc: therefore 
they call industrious men painstaking, or, rather, fond of 
labor ; we, more conveniently, call them laborious ; for la 
boring is one thing, and enduring pain another. You see, 
O Greece ! your barrenness of words, sometimes, though 
you think you are always so rich in them. I say, then, 
that there is a difference between laboring and beinsr in 


pain. When Caius Marius had an operation performed 
for a swelling in his thigh, he felt pain ; when he headed 
his troops in a very hot season, he labored. Yet these 
two feelings bear some resemblance to one another ; for 
the accustoming ourselves to labor makes the endurance 
of pain more easy to us. And it was because they were 
influenced by this reason that the founders of the Grecian 
form of government provided 'that the bodies of their 
youth should be strengthened by labor, which custom the 
Spartans transferred even to their women, who in other 
cities lived more delicately, keeping within the walls of 
their houses ; but it was otherwise with the Spartans. 

The Spartan women, with a manly air, 
Fatigues and dangers with their husbands share ; 
They in fantastic sports have no delight, 
Partners with them in exercise and fight. 

And in these laborious exercises pain interferes sometimes. 
They are thrown down, receive blows, have bad falls, and 
are bruised, and the labor itself produces a sort of callous 
ness to pain. 

XVI. As to military service (I speak of our own, not 
of that of the Spartans, for they used to march slowly to 
the sound of the flute, and scarce a word of command was 
given without an anapa3St), you may see, in the first place, 
whence the very name of an army (exercitus) 1 is derived; 
and, secondly, how great the labor is of an army on its 
march : then consider that they carry more than a fort 
night's provision, and whatever else they may want; that 
they carry the burden of the stakes, 2 for as to shield, sword, 
or helmet, they look on them as no more encumbrance than 
their own limbs, for they say that arms are the limbs of 
a soldier, and those, indeed, they carry so commodiously 
that, when there is occasion, they throw down their bur 
dens, and use their arms as readily as their limbs. Why 
need I mention the exercises of the legions? And how 
great the labor is which is undergone in the running, en 
counters, shouts ! Hence it is that their minds are worked 

1 From exerceo. 

2 Each soldier carried a stake, to help form a palisade in front of the 


up to make so light of wounds in action. Take a soldier 
of equal bravery, but undisciplined, and he will seem a 
woman. Why is it that there is this sensible difference 
between a raw recruit and a veteran soldier? The age of 
the young soldiers is for the most part in their favor; but 
it is practice only that enables men to bear labor and de 
spise wounds. Moreover, we often see, when the wounded 
are carried off the field, the raw, untried soldier, though 
but slightly wounded, cries out most shamefully ; but the 
more brave, experienced veteran only inquires for some one 
to dress his wounds, and says, 

Patroclus, to thy aid I must appeal 

Ere worse ensue, my bleeding wounds to heal; 

The sons of ,ZEsculapius are employ'd, 

No room for me, so many are annoy'd. 

XVII. This is certainly Eurypylus himself. What an 
experienced man ! While his friend is continually enlarg 
ing on his misfortunes, you may observe that he is so far 
from weeping that he even assigns a reason why he should 
bear his wounds with patience. 

Who at his enemy a stroke directs, 
His sword to light upon himself expects. 

Patroclus, I suppose, will lead him off to his chamber to 
bind up his wounds, at least if he be a man : but not a 
word of that ; he only inquires how the battle went : 

Say how the Argives bear themselves in fight ? 

And yet no words can show the truth as well as those, your 
deeds and visible sufferings. 

Peace! and my wounds bind up; 

but though Eurypylus could bear these afflictions, ^Esopus 
could not, 

Where Hector's fortune press'd our yielding troops ; 

and he explains the rest, though in pain. So unbounded 
is military glory in a brave man! Shall, then, a veteran 
soldier be able to behave in this manner, and shall a wise 
and learned man not be able? Surely the latter might be 


able to bear pain better, and in no small degree either. At 
present, however, I am confining myself to what is engen 
dered by practice and discipline. I am not yet come to 
speak of reason and philosophy. You may often hear of old 
women living without victuals for three or four days ; but 
take away a wrestler's provisions but for one day, and he 
will implore the aid of Jupiter Olympius, the very God for 
whom he exercises himself: he will cry out that he cannot 
endure it. Great is the force of custom ! Sportsmen will 
continue whole nights in the snow ; they will bear being 
almost frozen upon the mountains. From practice boxers 
will not so much as utter a groan, however bruised by the 
cestus. But what do you think of those to whom a vic 
tory in the Olympic games seemed almost on a par with 
the ancient consulships of the Roman people? What 
wounds will the gladiators bear, who are either barbarians, 
or the very dregs of mankind ! How do they, who are 
trained to it, prefer being wounded to basely avoiding it ! 
How often do they prove that they consider nothing but 
the giving satisfaction to their masters or to the people! 
for when covered with wounds, they send to their masters 
to learn their pleasure : if it is their will, they are ready to 
lie down and die. What gladiator, of even moderate rep 
utation, ever gave a sigh? who ever turned pale? who 
ever disgraced himself either in the actual combat, or even 
when about to die ? who that had been defeated ever drew 
in his neck to avoid the stroke of death ? So great is the 
force of practice, deliberation, and custom ! Shall this, 
then, be done by 

A Samnite rascal, worthy of his trade ; 

and shall a man born to glory have so soft a part in his 
soul as not to be able to fortify it by reason and reflection? 
The sight of the gladiators' combats is by some looked on 
as cruel and inhuman, and I do not know, as it is at present 
managed, but it may be so ; but when the guilty fought, 
we might receive by our ears perhaps (but certainly by 
our eyes we could not) better training to harden us against 
pain and death. 

XVIII. I have now said enough about the effects of ex 
ercise, custom, and careful meditation. Proceed we now 


to consider the force of reason, unless you have something 
to reply to what has been said. 

A. That I should interrupt you ! By no means ; for 
your discourse has brought me over to your opinion. Let 
the Stoics, then, think it their business to determine wheth 
er pain be an evil or not, while they endeavor to show by 
some strained and trifling conclusions, which are nothing 
to the purpose, that pain is no evil. My opinion is, that 
whatever it is, it is not so great as it appears ; and I say, 
that men are influenced to a great extent by some false 
representations and appearance of it, and that all which is 
really felt is capable of being endured. Where shall I be 
gin, then ? Shall I superficially go over what I said be 
fore, that my discourse may have a greater scope ? 

This, then, is agreed upon by all, and not only by learned 
men, but also by the unlearned, that it becomes the brave 
and magnanimous those that have patience and a spirit 
above this world not to give way to pain. Nor has there 
ever been any one who did not commend a man who boro 
it in this manner. That, then, which is expected from a 
brave man, and is commended when it is seen, it must sure 
ly be base in any one to be afraid of at its approach, or 
not to bear when it comes. But I would have you con 
sider whether, as all the right affections of the soul are 
classed under the name of virtues, the truth is that this is 
not properly the name of them all, but that they all have 
their name from that leading virtue which is superior to 
all the rest : for the name " virtue" comes from vir, a man, 
and courage is the peculiar distinction of a man : and this 
virtue has two principal duties, to despise death and pain. 
We must, then, exert these, if we would be men of virtue, 
or, rather, if we would be men, because virtue (virtus) takes 
its very name from vir, man. 

XIX. You may inquire, perhaps, how ? And such an 
inquiry is not amiss, for philosophy is ready with her as 
sistance. Epicurus offers himself to you, a man far from 
a bad or, I should rather say, a very good man : he ad 
vises no more than he knows. " Despise pain," says he. 
Who is it saith this ? Is it the same man who calls pain 
the greatest of all evils ? It is not, indeed, very consist 
ent in him. Let us hear what he says : "If the pain is ex- 



cessivo, it must needs be short." I must have that over 
again, for I do not apprehend what you mean exactly by 
" excessive " or " short." That is excessive than which 
nothing can be greater; that is short than which noth 
ing is shorter. I do not regard the greatness of any pain 
from which, by reason of the shortness of its continuance, 
I shall be delivered almost before it reaches me. But if 
the pain be as great as that of Philoctetes, it will appear 
great indeed to me, but yet not the greatest that I am 
capable of bearing ; for the pain is confined to my foot. 
But my eye may pain me, I may have a pain in the head, 
or sides, or lungs, or in every part of me. It is fai % , then, 
from being excessive. Therefore, says he, pain of a long 
continuance has more pleasure in it than uneasiness. 
Now, I cannot bring myself to say so great a man talks 
nonsense ; but I imagine he is laughing at us. My opin 
ion is that the greatest pain (I say the greatest, though it 
may be ten atoms less than another) is not therefore short, 
because acute. I could name to you a great many good 
men who have been tormented many years with the acutest 
pains of the gout. But this cautious man doth not deter 
mine the measure of that greatness or of duration, so as to 
enable us to know what he calls excessive with regard to 
pain, or short with respect to its continuance. Let us pass 
him by, then, as one who says just nothing at all; and let 
us force him to acknowledge, notwithstanding he might 
behave himself somewhat boldly under his colic and his 
strangury, that no remedy against pain can be had from 
him who looks on pain as the greatest of all evils. We 
must apply, then, for relief elsewhere, and nowhere better 
(if we seek for what is most consistent with itself) than 
to those who place the chief good in honesty, and the 
greatest evil in infamy. You dare not so much as groan, 
or discover the least uneasiness in their company, for vir 
tue itself speaks to you through them. 

XX. Will you, when you may observe children at Lace- 
dcemon, and young men at Olympia, and barbarians in the 
amphitheatre, receive the severest wounds, and bear them 
without once opening their mouths will you, I say, if any 
pain should by chance attack you, cry out like a woman ? 
Will you not rather bear it with resolution and constan- 


cy ? and not cry, It is intolerable ; nature cannot bear it ! 
I hear what you say : Boys bear this because they are 
led thereto by glory ; some bear it through shame, many 
through fear, and yet are we afraid that nature cannot 
bear what is borne by many, and in such different cir 
cumstances? Nature not only bears it, but challenges it, 
for there is nothing with her preferable, nothing which 
she desires more than credit % and reputation, and praise, 
and honor, and glory. I choose here to describe this one 
thing under many names, and I have used many that you 
may have the clearer idea of it ; for what I mean to say is, 
that whatever is desirable of itself, proceeding from vir 
tue, or placed in virtue, and commendable on its own ac 
count (which I would rather agree to call the only good 
than deny it to be the chief good) is what men should pre 
fer above all things. And as we declare this to be the 
case with respect to honesty, so we speak in the contra 
ry manner of infamy ; nothing is so odious, so detesta 
ble, nothing so unworthy of a man. And if you are thor 
oughly convinced of this (for, at the beginning of this dis 
course, you allowed that there appeared to you more evil 
in infamy than in pain), it follows that you ought to have 
the command over yourself, though I scarcely know how 
this expression may seem an accurate one, which appears 
to represent man as made up of two natures, so that one 
should be in command and the other be subject to it. 

XXI. Yet this division does not proceed from igno 
rance; for. the soul admits of a twofold division, one of 
which partakes of reason, the other is without it. When, 
therefore, we are ordered to give a law to ourselves, the 
meaning is, that reason should restrain our rashness. 
There is in the soul of every man something naturally soft, 
low, enervated in a manner, and languid. Were there 
nothing besides this, men would be the greatest of mon 
sters ; but there is present to every man reason, which pre 
sides over and gives laws to all ; which, by improving it 
self, and making continual advances, becomes perfect vir 
tue. It behooves a man, then, to take care that reason 
shall have the command over that part which is bound 
to practise obedience. In what manner? you will say. 
Why, as a master has over his slave, a general over his 


army, a father over his son. If that part of the soul 
which I have called soft behaves disgracefully, if it gives 
itself up to lamentations and womanish tears, then let it 
be restrained, and committed to the care of friends and 
relations, for we often see those persons brought to or 
der by shame whom no reasons can influence. Therefore, 
we should confine those feelings, like our servants, in safe 
custody, and almost with Chains. But those who have 
more resolution, and yet are not utterly immovable, we 
should encourage with our exhortations, as we would good 
soldiers, to recollect themselves, and maintain their honor. 
That wisest man of all Greece, in the Niptra, does not la 
ment too much over his wounds, or, rather, he is moderate 
in his grief : 

Move slow, my friends ; your hasty speed refrain, 
Lest by your motion you increase my pain. 

Pacuvius is better in this than Sophocles, for in the 
one Ulysses bemoans his wounds too vehemently ; for the 
very people who carried him after he was wounded, 
though his grief was moderate, yet, considering the dignity 
of the man, did not scruple to say, 

And thou, Ulysses, long to war inured, 

Thy wounds, though great, too feebly hast endured. 

The wise poet understood that custom was no contempti 
ble instructor how to bear pain. But the same hero com 
plains with more decency, though in great pain : 

Assist, support me, never leave me so ; 
Unbind my wounds, oh ! execrable woe ! 

He begins to give way, but instantly checks himself: 

Away ! begone ! but cover first the sore ; 

For your rude hands but make my pains the more. 

Do you observe how he constrains himself? not that his 
bodily pains were less, but because he checks the anguish 
of his mind. Therefore, in the conclusion of the Niptra?, 
he blames others, even when he himself is dying : 

Complaints of fortune may become the man, 
None but a woman will thus weeping stand. 


And so that soft place in his soul obeys his reason, just as 
an abashed soldier does his stern commander. 

XXII. The man, then, in whom absolute wisdom exists 
(such a man, indeed, we have never as yet seen, but the 
philosophers have described in their writings what sort of 
man he will be, if he should exist) ; such a man, or at least 
that perfect and absolute reason which exists in him, will 
have the same authority over the inferior part as a good 
parent has over his dutiful children : he will bring it to 
obey his nod without any trouble or difficulty. He will 
rouse himself, prepare and arm himself, to oppose pain 
as he would an enemy. If you inquire what arms he will 
provide himself with, they will be contention, encourage 
ment, discourse with himself. He will say thus to himself: 
Take care that you are guilty of nothing base, languid, or 
unmanly. He will turn over in his mind all the different 
kinds of honor. Zeno of Elea will occur to him, who suf 
fered everything rather than betray his confederates in the 
design of putting an end to the tyranny. He will reflect 
on Anaxarchus, the pupil of Democritus, who, having fall 
en into the hands of Nicocreon, King of Cyprus, without 
the least entreaty for mercy or refusal, submitted to every 
kind of torture. Calanus the Indian will occur to him, an 
ignoi'ant man and a barbarian, born at the foot of Mount 
Caucasus, who committed himself to the flames by his own 
free, voluntary act. But we, if we have the toothache, 
or a pain in the foot, or if the body be anyways affected, 
cannot bear it. For our sentiments of pain as well as 
pleasure are so trifling and effeminate, we are so enervated 
and relaxed by luxuries, that we cannot bear the sting of 
a bee without crying out. But Cains Marius, a plain' 
countryman, but of a manly soul, when he had an operation 
performed on him, as I mentioned above, at first refused 
to be tied down ; and he is the first instance of any one's 
having had an operation performed on him without be 
ing tied down. Why, then, did others bear it afterward ? 
Why, from the force of example. You see, then, that pain 
exists more in opinion than in nature ; and yet the same 
Marius gave a proof that there is something very sharp in 
pain, for he would not submit to have the other thigh cut. 
So that he bore his pain with resolution as a man ; but, 


like a reasonable person, he was not willing to undergo 
any greater pain without some necessary reason. The 
whole, then, consists in this that you should have com 
mand over yourself. I have already told you what kind 
of command this is; and by considering what is most con 
sistent with patience, fortitude, and greatness of soul, a 
man not only restrains himself, but, somehow or other, mit 
igates even pain itself. 

XXIII. Even as in a battle the dastardly and timorous 
soldier throws away his shield on the first appearance of 
an enemy, and runs as fast as he can, and on that account 
loses his life sometimes, though he has never received even 
one wound, when he who stands his ground has noth 
ing of the sort happen to him, so they who cannot bear 
the appearance of pain throw themselves away, and give 
themselves up to affliction and dismay. But they that 
oppose it, often come off more than a match for it. For 
the body has a certain resemblance to the soul: as bur 
dens are more easily borne the more the body is exerted, 
while they crush us if we give way, so the soul by exert 
ing itself resists the whole weight that would oppress it ; 
but if it yields, it is so pressed that it cannot support it 
self. And if \ve consider things truly, the soul should ex 
ert itself in every pursuit, for that is the only security for 
its doing its duty. But this should be principally regard- 
ed in pain, that we must not do anything timidly, or das 
tardly, or basely, or slavishly, or effeminately, and, above 
all things, we must dismiss and avoid that Philoctetenn 
sort of outcry. A man is allowed sometimes to groan, but 
yet seldom ; but it is not permissible even in a woman to 
howl ; for such a noise as this is forbidden, by the twelve 
tables, to be used even at funerals. Nor does a wise or 
brave man ever groan, unless when he exerts himself to 
give his resolution greater force, as they who run in the 
stadium make as much noise as they can. The wrestlers, 
too, do the same when they are training; and the boxers, 
when they aim a blow with the cestus at their adversary, 
give a groan, not because they are in pain, or from a sink 
ing of their spirits, but because their whole body is put 
upon the stretch by the throwing-out of these groans, and 
the blow conies the stronger. 


XXIV. What ! they who would speak louder than ordi 
nary, are they satisfied with working their jaws, sides, or 
tongue, or stretching the common organs of speech and 
utterance? The whole body and every muscle is at full 
stretch, if I may be allowed the expression ; every nerve is 
exerted to assist their voice. I have actually seen the knees 
of Marcus Antonius touch the ground when he was speak 
ing with vehemence for himself, with relation to the Va- 
rian law. For, as the engines you throw stones or darts 
with throw them out with the greater force the more they 
are strained and drawn back; so it is in speaking, run 
ning, or boxing the more people strain themselves, the 
greater their force. Since, therefore, this exertion has so 
much influence if in a moment of pain groans help to 
strengthen the mind, let us use them; "but if they be 
groans of lamentation, if they be the expression of weak 
ness or abjectness, or unmanly weeping, then I should 
scarcely call him a man who yielded to them. For even 
supposing that such groaning could give any ease, it still 
should be considered whether it were consistent with a 
brave and resolute man. But if it does not ease our pain, 
why should we debase ourselves to no purpose? For 
what is more unbecoming in a man than to cry like a 
woman? But this precept which is laid down with re 
spect to pain is not confined to it. We should apply this 
exertion of the soul to everything else. Is anger in 
flamed? is lust excited? we must have recourse to the 
same citadel, and apply to the same arms. But since it is 
pain which we are at present discussing, we will let the 
other subjects alone. To bear pain, then, sedately and 
calmly, it is of great use to consider with all our soul, as 
the saying is, how noble it is to do so, for we are naturally 
desirous (as I said before, but it cannot' be too often re 
peated) and very much inclined to what is honorable, of 
which, if we discover but the least glimpse, there is noth 
ing which we are not prepared to undergo and suffer to 
attain it. From this impulse of our minds, this desire for 
genuine glory and honorable conduct, it is that such dan 
gers are supported in war, and that brave men are not 
sensible of their wounds in action, or, if they are sensible 
of them, prefer death to the departing but the least step 


from their honor. The Decii saw the shining swords of 
their enemies when they were rushing into the battle. 
But the honorable character and the glory of the death 
which they were seeking made all fear of death of lit 
tle weight. Do you imagine that Eparninondas groaned 
when he perceived that his life was flowing out with his 
blood? No; for he left his country triumphing over the 
Lacedemonians, whereas he had found it in subjection t<> 
them. These are the comforts, these are the things that 
assuage the greatest pain. 

XXV. You may ask, How the case is in peace ? What 
is to be done at home ? How we are to behave in bed ? 
You bring me back to the philosophers, who seldom go 
to war. Among these, Dionysius of Heraclea, a man cer 
tainly of no resolution, having learned fortitude of Zeno, 
quitted it on being in pain ; for, being tormented with a 
pain in his kidneys, in bewailing himself he cried out that 
those things were false which he had formerly conceived 
of pain. And when his fellow-disciple, Cleanthes, asked 
him why he had changed his opinion, he answered, " That 
the case of any man who had applied so much time to 
philosophy, and yet was unable to bear pain, might be a 
sufficient proof that pain is an evil ; that he himself had 
spent many years at philosophy, and yet could not bear 
pain : it followed, therefore, that pain was an evil." It is 
reported that Cleanthes on that struck his foot on the 
ground, and repeated a verse out of the Epigonae: 

Amphiaraus, hear'st thou this below ? 

He meant Zeno: he was sorry the other had degenerated 
from him. 

But it was not so with our friend Posidonius, whom I 
have often seen myself ; and I will tell you what Pompey 
used to say of him : that when he came to Rhodes, after 
his departure from Syria, he had a great desire to hear 
Posidonius, but was informed that he was very ill of a se 
vere fit of the gout ; yet he had great inclination to pay a 
visit to so famous a philosopher. Accordingly, when he 
had seen him, and paid his compliments, and had spoken 
with great respect of him, he said he was very sorry that 
he could not hear him lecture. "But indeed you may," 


replied the other, " nor will I suffer any bodily pain to oc 
casion so great a man to visit me in vain." On this Pom- 
pey relates that, as he lay on his bed, he disputed with 
great dignity and fluency on this very subject : that noth 
ing was good but what was honest; and that in his par 
oxysms he would often say, " Pain, it is to no purpose ; 
notwithstanding you are troublesome, I will never ac 
knowledge you an evil." And in general all celebrated 
and notorious afflictions become endurable by disregard 
ing them. 

XXVI. Do we not observe that where those exercises 
called gymnastic are in esteem, those who enter the lists 
never concern themselves about dangers? that where the 
praise of riding and hunting is highly esteemed, they who 
practice these arts decline no pain ? What shall I say of 
our own ambitious pursuits or desire of honors ? What 
fire have not candidates run through to gain a single 
vote? Therefore Africanus had always in his hands 
Xenophon, the pupil of Socrates, being particularly pleased 
with his saying, that the same labors were not equally 
heavy to the general and to the common man, because the 
honor itself made the labor lighter to the general. But 
yet, so it happens, that even with the illiterate vulgar an 
idea of honor is of great influence, though they cannot un 
derstand what it is. They are led by report and common 
opinion to look on that as honorable which has the general 
voice. Not that I would have you, should the multitude 
be ever so fond of you, rely on their judgment, nor ap 
prove of everything which they think right : you must 
use your own judgment. If you are satisfied with your 
self when you have approved of what is right, you will 
not only have the mastery over yourself (which I recom 
mended to you just now), but over everybody, and every 
thing. Lay this down, then, as a rule, that a great ca 
pacity, and lofty elevation of soul, which distinguishes it 
self most by despising and looking down with contempt 
on pain, is the most excellent of all things, and the more 
so if it does not depend on the people and does not aim at 
applause, but derives its satisfaction from itself. Besides, 
to me, indeed, everything seems the more commendable 
the less the people are courted, and the fewer eyes there 


are to see it. Not that you should avoid the public, for 
every generous action loves the public view ; yet no the 
atre for virtue is equal to a consciousness of it. 

XXVII. And let this be principally considered : that 
this bearing of pain, which I have often said is to be 
strengthened by an exertion of the soul, should be the 
same in everything. For you meet with many who, 
through a desire of victory, or for glory, or to maintain 
their rights, or their liberty, have boldly received wounds, 
and borne themselves up under them ; and yet those very 
same persons, by relaxing that intenseness of their minds, 
were unequal to bearing the pain of a disease ; for they 
did not support themselves under their former sufferings 
by reason or philosophy, but by inclination and glory. 
Therefore some barbarians and savage people are able to 
fight very stoutly with the sword, but cannot bear sick 
ness like men ; but the Grecians, men of no great courage, 
but as wise as human nature will admit of, cannot look an 
enemy in the face, yet the same will bear to be visited 
with sickness tolerably, and with a sufficiently manly spir 
it; and the Cimbrians and Celtiberians are very alert in 
battle, but bemoan themselves in sickness. For nothing 
can be consistent which has not reason for its foundation. 
But when you see those who are led by inclination or 
opinion, not retarded by pain in their pursuits, nor hin 
dered by it from succeeding in them, you may conclude, 
either that pain is no evil, or that, notwithstanding you 
may choose to call an evil whatever is disagreeable and 
contrary to nature, yet it is so very trifling an evil that it 
may so effectually be got the better of by virtue as quite 
to disappear. And I would have you think of this night 
and day ; for this argument will spread itself, and take up 
more room some time or other, and not be confined to 
pain alone; for if the motives to all our actions are to 
avoid disgrace and acquire honor, we may not only despise 
the stings of pain, but the storms of fortune, especially if 
we have recourse to that retreat which was pointed out in 
our yesterday's discussion ; for, as if some God had ad 
vised a man who was pursued by pirates to throw himself 
overboard, saying, "There is something at hand to receive 
you ; either a dolphin will take you up, as it did Arion of 


Methymna; or those horses sent by Neptune to Pelops 
(who are said to have carried chariots so rapidly as to be 
borne up by the waves) will receive you, and convey you 
wherever you please. Cast away all fear." So, though 
your pains be ever so sharp and disagreeable, if the case 
is not such that it is worth your while to endure them, 
you see whither you may betake yourself. I think this 
will do for the present. But perhaps you still abide by 
your opinion. 

A. Not in the least, indeed ; and I hope I am freed by 
these two days' discourses from the fear of two things 
that I greatly dreaded. 

M. To-morrow, then, for rhetoric, as we were saying. 
But I see we must not drop our philosophy. 

A. No, indeed ; we will have the one in the forenoon, 
and this at the usual time. 

M. It shall be so, and I will comply with your very 
laudable inclinations. 



I. WHAT reason shall I assign, O Brutus, why, as we 
consist of mind and body, the art of curing and preserv 
ing the body should be so much sought after, and the in 
vention of it, as being so useful, should be ascribed to the 
immortal Gods ; but the medicine of the mind should not 
have been so much the object of inquiry while it was un 
known, nor so much attended to and cultivated after its 
discovery, nor so well received or approved of by some, 
and accounted actually disagreeable, and looked upon with 
an envious eye by many ? Is it because we, by means of 
the mind, judge of the pains and disorders of the body, 
but do not, by means of the body, arrive at any perception 
of the disorders of the mind ? Hence it comes that the 
mind only judges of itself when that very faculty by which 
it is judged is in a bad state. Had nature given us facul 
ties for discerning and viewing herself, and could we go 
through life by keeping our eye on her our best guide 


there would be no reason certainly why any one should be 
in want of philosophy or learning ; but, as it is, she has 
furnished us only with some feeble rays of light, which 
we immediately extinguish so completely by evil habits 
and erroneous opinions that the light of nature is nowhere 
visible. The seeds of virtues are natural to our constitu 
tions, and, were they suffered to come to maturity, would 
naturally conduct us to a happy life; but now, as soon as 
we are born and received into the world, we are instantly 
familiarized with all kinds of depravity and perversity of 
opinions ; so that we may be said almost to suck in error 
with our nurse's milk. When we return to our parents, 
and are put into the hands of tutors and governors, we 
are imbued with so many errors that truth gives place to 
falsehood, and nature herself to established opinion. 

II. To these we may add the poets ; who, on account of 
the appearance they exhibit of learning and wisdom, are 
heard, read, and got by heart, and make a deep impres 
sion on our minds. But when to these are added the peo 
ple, who are, as it were, one great body of instructors, and 
the multitude, who declare unanimously for what is wrong, 
then are we altogether overwhelmed with bad opinions, 
and revolt entirely from nature ; so that they seem to de 
prive us of our best guide who have decided that there is 
nothing better for man, nothing more worthy of being de 
sired by him, nothing more excellent, than honors and 
commands, and a high reputation with the people ; which 
indeed every excellent man aims at ; but Avhile he pursues 
that only true honor which nature has in view above all 
other objects, he finds himself busied in arrant trifles, and 
in pursuit of no conspicuous form of virtue, but only some 
shadowy representation of glory. For glory is a real and 
express substance, not a mere shadow. It consists in the 
united praise of good men, the free voice of those who 
form a true judgment of pre-eminent virtue; it is, as it 
were, the very echo of virtue ; and being generally the 
attendant on laudable actions, should not be slighted by 
good men. But popular fame, which would pretend to 
imitate it, is hasty and inconsiderate, and generally -coni- 
mends wicked and immoral actions, and throws discredit 
upon the appearance and beauty of honesty by assuming 


a resemblance of it. And it is owing to their not being- 
able to discover the difference between them that some 
men, ignorant of real excellence, and in what it consists, 
have been the destruction of their country and of them 
selves. And thus the best men have erred, not so much 
in their intentions as by a mistaken conduct. What? is 
no cure to be attempted to be applied to those who are 
carried away by the love of money, or the lust of pleasures, 
by which they are rendered little short of madmen, which 
is the case of all weak people ? or is it because the disor 
ders of the mind are less dangerous than those of the 
body? or because the body will admit of a cure, while 
there is no medicine whatever for the mind ? 

III. But there are more disorders of the mind than of 
the body, and they are of a more dangerous nature ; for 
these very disorders are the more offensive because they 
belong to the mind and disturb it; and the mind, when 
disordered, is, as Ennius says, in a constant error : it can 
neither bear nor endure anything, and is under the per 
petual influence of desires. Now, what disorders can be 
worse to the body than these two distempers of the mind 
(for I overlook others), weakness and desire ? But how, 
indeed, can it be maintained that the mind cannot pre 
scribe for itself, when she it is who has invented the med 
icines for the body, when, with regard to bodily cures, 
constitution and nature have a great share, nor do all who 
suffer themselves to be cured find that effect instantly; 
but those minds which are disposed to be cured, and sub 
mit to the precepts of the wise, may undoubtedly recover 
a healthy state ? Philosophy is certainly the medicine of 
the soul, whose assistance we do not seek from abroad, as 
in bodily disorders, but we ourselves are bound to exert 
our utmost energy and power in order to effect our cure. 
But as to philosophy in general, I have, I think, in my 
Hortensius, sufficiently spoken of the credit and attention 
which it deserves : since that, indeed, I have been contin 
ually either disputing or writing on its most material 
branches ; and I have laid down in these books all the dis 
cussions which took place between myself and my particu 
lar friends at my Tusculan villa. But as I have spoken 
in the two former of pain and death, this book shall be 


devoted to the account of the third day of our disputa 

We came down into the Academy when the day was 
already declining towards afternoon, and I asked one of 
those who were present to propose a subject for us to dis 
course on ; and then the business was carried on in this 
manner : 

IV. A. My opinion is, that a wise man is subject to 

M. What, and to the other perturbations of mind, as 
fears, lusts, anger ? For these are pretty much like what 
the Greeks call Tradrj. I might call them diseases, and 
that would be a literal translation, but it is not agreeable 
to our way of speaking. For envy, delight, and pleasure 
are all called by the Greeks diseases, being affections of 
the mind not in subordination to reason ; but we, I think, 
are right in calling the same motions of a disturbed soul 
perturbations, and in very seldom using the term diseases ; 
though, perhaps, it appears otherwise to you. 

A. I am of your opinion. 

M. And do you think a wise mail subject to these? 

A. Entirely, I think. 

M. Then that boasted wisdom is but of small account, 
if it differs so little from madness ? 

A. What ? does every commotion of the mind seem to 
you to be madness ? 

M. Not to me only; but I apprehend, though I have 
often been surprised at it, that it appeared so to our an 
cestors many ages before Socrates; from whom is derived 
all that philosophy which relates to life and morals. 

A. How so? 

M. Because the name madness 1 implies a sickness of 
the mind and disease ; that is to say, an unsoundness and 
an unhealthiness of mind, which they call madness. But 
the philosophers call all perturbations of the soul diseases, 
and their opinion is that no fool is ever free from these ; 
but all that are diseased are unsound; and the minds of 
all fools are diseased ; therefore all fools are mad. For 
they held that soundness of the mind depends on a cer- 

1 Insnnia from in, n, particle of negative force in composition, ami 
inus. hcaltliy, sound. 


tain tranquillity and steadiness; and a mind which was 
destitute of these qualities they called insane, because 
soundness was inconsistent with a perturbed mind just 
as much as with a disordered body. 

V. Nor were they less ingenious in calling the state of 
the soul devoid of the light of the mind, " a being out of 
one's mind," " a being beside one's self." From whence 
we may understand that they who gave these names to 
things were of the same opinion with Socrates, that all 
silly people were unsound, which the Stoics have care 
fully preserved as being derived from him ; for whatever 
mind is distempered (and, as I just now said, the philoso 
phers call all perturbed motions of the mind distempers) 
is no more sound than a body is when in a fit of sick 
ness. Hence it is that wisdom is the soundness of the 
mind, folly a sort of unsoundness, which is insanity, or a 
being out of one's mind: and these are much better ex 
pressed by the Latin words than the Greek, which you 
will find the case also in many other topics. But we 
will discuss that point elsewhere : let us now attend to 
our present subject. The very meaning of the word de 
scribes the whole thing about which we are inquiring, 
both as to its substance and character. For we must 
necessarily understand by " sound " those whose minds 
are under no perturbation from any motion as if it were 
a disease. They who are differently affected we must 
necessarily call "unsound." So that nothing is better 
than what is usual in Latin, to say that they who are run 
away with by their lust or anger have quitted the com 
mand over themselves; though anger includes lust, for 
anger is defined to be the lust of revenge. They, then, 
who are said not to be masters of themselves, are said 
to be so because they are not under the government of 
reason, to which is assigned by nature the power over 
the whole soul. Why the Greeks should call this /mwi, 
I do not easily apprehend; but we define it much bet 
ter than they, for we distinguish this madness (insania), 
which, being allied to folly, is more extensive, from what 
we call furor, or raving. The Greeks, indeed, would do 
so too, but they have no one word that will express it : 
what we call furor, they call ^eXayx'Am, as if the reason 


were affected only by a black bile, and not disturbed as 
often by a violent rage, or fear, or grief. Thus we say 
Athamas, Alcmreon, Ajax, and Orestes were raving (fu- 
rere) ; because a person affected in this manner was not 
allowed by the Twelve Tables to have the management 
of his own affairs ; therefore the words are not, if he is 
mad (insanus), but if he begins to be raving (furiosus). 
For they looked upon madness to be an unsettled humor 
that proceeded from not being of sound mind ; yet such 
a person might perform his ordinary duties, and dis 
charge the usual and customary requirements of life : but 
they considered one that was raving as afflicted with a 
total blindness of the mind, which, notwithstanding it is 
allowed to be greater than madness, is nevertheless of 
such a nature that a wise man may be subject to raving 
(furor), but cannot possibly be afflicted by insanity (in- 
sania). But this is another question : let us now return 
to our original subject. 

VI. I think you said that it was your opinion that a 
wise man was liable to grief. 

A. And so, indeed, I think. 

M. It is natural enough to think so, for we are not the 
offspring of flints ; but we have by nature something soft 
and tender in our souls, which may be put into a violent 
motion by grief, as by a storm ; nor did that Grantor, who 
was one of the most distinguished men that our Academy 
has ever produced, say this amiss : " I am by no means of 
their opinion who talk so much in praise of I know not 
what insensibility, which neither can exist, nor ought to 
exist. " I would choose," says he, " never to be ill ; but 
should I be so, still I should choose to retain my sensa 
tion, whether there was to be an amputation or any other 
separation of anything from my body. For that insensi 
bility cannot be but at the expense of some unnatural fe 
rocity of mind, or stupor of body." But let us consider 
whether to talk in this manner be not allowing that we 
are weak, and yielding to our softness. Notwithstanding, 
let us be hardy enough, not only to lop off every arm of 
our miseries, but even to pluck up every fibre of their 
roots. Yet still something, perhaps, may be left behind, 
so deep does folly strike its roots: but whatever may be 


left, it will be no more than is necessary. But let us be 
persuaded of this, that unless the mind be in a sound state, 
which philosophy alone can effect, there can be no end of 
our miseries. Wherefore, as we began, let us submit our 
selves to it for a cure ; we shall be cured if we choose to 
be. I shall advance something further. I shall not treat 
of grief alone, though that indeed is the principal thing ; 
but, as I originally proposed, of every perturbation of the 
mind, as I termed it ; disorder, as the Greeks call it : and 
first, with your leave, I shall treat it in the manner of the 
Stoics, whose method is to reduce their arguments into a 
very small space; afterward I shall enlarge more in my 
own way. 

VII. A man of courage is also full of faith. I do not 
use the word confident, because, owing to an erroneous 
custom of speaking, that word has come to be used in a 
bad sense, though it is derived from confiding, which is 
commendable. But he who is full of faith is certainly un 
der no fear; for there is an inconsistency between faith 
and fear. Now, whoever is subject to grief is subject to 
fear; for whatever things we grieve at when present we 
dread when hanging over us and approaching. Thus it 
comes about that grief is inconsistent with courage : it is 
very probable, therefore, that whoever is subject to grief 
is also liable to fear, and to a broken kind of spirits and 
sinking. Now, whenever these befall a man, he is in a 
servile state, and must own that he is overpowered ; for 
whoever admits these feelings, must admit timidity and 
cowaixlice. But these cannot enter into the mind of a 
man of coui*age; neither, therefore, can grief: but the man 
of courage is the only wise man; therefore grief cannot 
befall the wise man. It is, besides, necessary that whoever 
is brave should be a man of great soul ; that whoever is a 
man of a great soul should be invincible ; whoever is in 
vincible looks down with contempt on all things here, and 
considers them beneath him. But no one can despise 
those things on account of* which he may be affected with 
grief; from whence it follows that a wise man is never af 
fected with grief : for all wise men are brave ; therefore a 
wise man is not subject to grief. And as the eye, when 
disordered, is not in a good condition for performing its 



office properly ; and as the other parts, and the whole 
body itself, when unsettled, cannot perform their office 
and business ; so the mind, when disordered, is but ill- 
fitted to perform its duty. The office of the mind is to 
use its reason well; but the mind of a wise man is always 
in condition to make the best use of his reason, and there 
fore is never out of order. But grief is a disorder of the 
mind ; therefore a wise man will be always free from it. 

VIII. And from these considerations we may get at a 
very probable definition of the temperate man, whom the 
Greeks call awtypuv : and they call that virtue auypoavvjiv, 
which I at one time call temperance, at another time mod 
eration, and sometimes even modesty ; but I do not know 
whether that virtue may not be properly called frugality, 
which has a more confined meaning with the Greeks; 
for they call frugal men ^r)cri^ovQ, which implies only that 
they are useful ; but our name has a more extensive mean 
ing : for all abstinence, all innocency (which the Greeks 
have no ordinary name for, though they might use the 
word a/3\a/3fta, for innocency is that disposition of mind 
which would offend no one) and several other virtues are 
comprehended under frugality; but if this quality were 
of less importance, and confined in as small a compass as 
some imagine, the surname of Piso 1 would not have been 
in so great esteem. But as we allow him not the name 
of a frugal man (fniffi), ^Yho either quits his post through 
fear, which is cowardice ; or who reserves to his own use 
what was privately committed to his keeping, which is in 
justice; or who fails in his military undertakings through 
rashness, which is folly for that reason the word frugali 
ty takes in these three virtues of fortitude, justice, and 
prudence, though it is indeed common to all virtues, for 
they are all connected and knit together. Let us allow, 
then, frugality itself to be another and fourth virtue ; for 
its peculiar property seems to be, to govern and appease 
all tendencies to too eager a desire after anything, to re 
strain lust, and to preserve a decent steadiness in every 
thing. The vice in contrast to this is called prodigality 
(nequitia). Frugality, I imagine, is derived from the 

1 The man who first received this surname was L. Calpurnins Piso, 
who was consul, 133 B.C., in the Servile War. 


word fntge, the best thing which the earth produces ; ne- 
quitia is derived (though this is perhaps rather more 
strained ; still, let us try it ; we shall only be thought to 
have been trifling if there is nothing in what we say) from 
the fact of everything being to no purpose (nequicquam) 
in such a man ; from which circumstance he is called also 
N~ihil, nothing. Whoever is frugal, then, or, if it is more 
agreeable to you, whoever is moderate and temperate, such 
a one must of course be consistent ; w r hoever is consistent, 
must be quiet; the quiet man must be free from all per 
turbation, therefore from grief likewise : and these are the 
properties of a wise man ; therefore a wise man must be 
free from grief. 

IX. So that Dionysius of Heraclea is right when, upon 
this complaint of Achilles in Homer, 

Well hast thou spoke, but at the tyrant's name 
My rage rekindles, and my soul's in flame : 
"Tis just resentment, and becomes the brave, 
Disgraced, dishonor'd like the vilest slave 1 

he reasons thus : Is the hand as it should be, when it is 
affected with a swelling? or is it possible for any other 
member of the body, when swollen or enlarged, to be in any 
other than a disordered state? Must not the mind, then, 
when it is puffed up, or distended, bo out of order ? But 
the mind of a wise man is always free from every kind of 
disorder : it never swells, never is puffed up ; but the mind 
when in anger is in a different state. A wise man, there 
fore, is never angry ; for when he is angry, he lusts after 
something; for whoever is angry naturally has a longing 
desire to give all the pain he can to the person who he 
thinks has injured him; and whoever has this earnest 
desire must necessarily be much pleased with the accom 
plishment of his wishes ; hence he is delighted with his 
neighbor's misery; and as a wise man is not capable of 
such feelings as these, he is therefore not capable of angei-. 
But should a wise man be subject to grief, he may like- 

1 The Greek is, 

'AX\a IJ.QI oMdverat Kpa&in y.6\w OTTTTOT' tueivov 
My/jerojuai or ju" u(rv<pn\ov ti/ 'Ap7eionrii' tpefev. II. ix. 642. 

I have given Pope's translation in the text. 


wise be subject to anger; for as he is free from anger, lie 
must likewise be free from grief. Again, could a wise 
man be subject to grief, he might also be liable to pity, or 
even might be open to a disposition towards envy (inviden- 
tici) ; I do not say to envy (invidia), for that can only ex 
ist by the very act of envying : but we may fairly form the 
word invidentia from invidendo, and so avoid the doubt 
ful name invidia; for this word is probably derived from 
in and video, looking too closely into another's fortune ; 
as it is said in the Melanippus, 

Who envies me the flower of my children ? 

where the Latin is invidit florem. It may appear not 
good Latin, but it is very well put by Accius ; for as video 
governs an accusative case, so it is more correct to say in- 
video florem than^on'. We are debarred from saying so 
by common usage. The poet stood in his own right, and 
expressed himself with more freedom. 

X. Therefore compassion and envy are consistent in the 
same man ; for whoever is uneasy at any one's adversity 
is also uneasy at another's prosperity: as Theophrastus, 
while he laments the death of his companion Callisthenes, 
is at the same time disturbed at the success of Alexander; 
and therefore he says that Callisthenes met with a man of 
the greatest power and good fortune, but one who did not 
know how to make use of his good fortune. And as pity 
is an uneasiness which arises from the misfortunes of an 
other, so envy is an uneasiness that proceeds from the good 
success of another : therefore whoever is capable of pity is 
capable of envy. But a wise man is incapable of envy, 
and consequently incapable of pity. But were a wise man 
used to grieve, to pity also would be familiar to him ; there 
fore to grieve is a feeling which cannot affect a wise man. 
Now, though these reasonings of the Stoics, and their con 
clusions, are rather strained and distorted, and ought to be 
expressed in a less stringent and narrow manner, yet great 
stress is to be laid on the opinions of those men who have 
a peculiarly bold and manly turn of thought and sentiment. 
For our friends the Peripatetics, notwithstanding all their 
erudition, gravity, and fluency of language, do not satisfy 
me about the moderation of these disorders and diseases 


of the soul which they insist upon ; for every evil, though 
moderate, is in its nature great. But our object is to 
make out that the wise man is free from all evil ; for as 
the body is unsound if it is ever so slightly affected, so the 
mind under any moderate disorder loses its soundness; 
therefore the Romans have, with their usual accuracy of 
expression, called trouble, and anguish, and vexation, on 
account of the analogy between a troubled mind and a 
diseased body, disorders. The Greeks call all perturbation 
of mind by pretty nearly the same name ; for they name 
every turbid motion of the soul irudoe, that is to say, a dis 
temper. But we have given them a more proper name; 
for a disorder of the mind is very like a disease of the 
body. But lust does not resemble sickness ; neither does 
immoderate joy, which is an elated and exulting pleas 
ure of the mind. Fear, too, is not very like a distemper, 
though it is akin to grief of mind, but properly, as is also 
the case with sickness of the body, so too sickness of mind 
has no name separated from pain. And therefore I must 
explain the origin of this pain, that is to say, the cause that 
occasions this grief in the mind, as if it were a sickness of 
the body. For as physicians think they have found out 
the cure when they have discovered the cause of the dis 
temper, so we shall discover the method of curing melan 
choly when the cause of it is found out. 

XI. The whole cause, then, is in opinion ; and this ob 
servation applies not to this grief alone, but to every other 
disorder of the mind, which are of four sorts, but consist 
ing of many parts. For as every disorder or perturbation 
is a motion of the mind, either devoid of reason, or in de 
spite of reason, or in disobedience to reason, and as that 
motion is excited by an opinion of either good or evil; 
these four perturbations are divided equally into two 
parts : for two of them proceed from an opinion of good, 
one of which is an exulting pleasure, that is to say, a joy 
elated beyond measure, arising from an opinion of some 
present great good ; the other is a desire which may fairly 
be called even a lust, and is an immoderate inclination af 
ter some conceived great good without any obedience to 
reason. Therefore these two kinds, the exulting pleasure 
and the lust, have their rise from an opinion of good, as 


the other two, fear and grief, have from an opinion of evil. 
For fear is an opinion of some great evil impending over 
us, and grief is an opinion of some great evil present ; and, 
indeed, it is a freshly conceived opinion of an evil so great 
that to grieve at it seems right: it is of that kind that he 

o o 

who is uneasy at it thinks he has good reason to be so. 
Now we should exert our utmost efforts to oppose these 
perturbations which are, as it were, so many furies let 
loose upon us and urged on by folly if we are desirous 
to pass this share of life that is allotted to us with ease 
and satisfaction. But of the other feelings I shall speak 
elsewhere : our business at present is to drive away grief 
if we can, for that shall be the object of our present dis 
cussion, since you have said that it was your opinion that 
a wise man might be subject to grief, which I can by no 
means allow of ; for it is a frightful, miserable, and detest 
able thing, which we should fly from with our utmost ef 
forts with all our sails and oars, as I may say. 

XII, That descendant of Tantalus, how does he appear 
to you he who sprung from Pelops, who formerly stole 
Hippodamia from her father-in-law, King GEnomaus, and 
married her by force? he who was descended from Ju 
piter himself, how broken-hearted and dispirited does he 
not seem ! 

Stand off, my friends, nor come within my shade, 
That no pollutions your sound hearts pervade, 
So foul a stain my body doth partake. 

Will you condemn yourself, Thyestes, and deprive yourself 
of life, on account of the greatness of another's crime? 
What do you think of that son of Phffibus? Do you not 
look upon him as unworthy of his own father's light? 

Hollow his eyes, his body worn away, 
His furrow'd cheeks his frequent tears betray ; 
His beard neglected, and his hoary hairs 
liough and uncomb'd, bespeak his bitter cares. 

O foolish ^Eetes ! these are evils which you yourself have 
been the cause of, and are not occasioned by any accidents 
with which chance has visited you ; and you behaved as 
you did, even after you had been inured to your distress, 
and after the first swelling of the mind had subsided ! 
whereas grief consists (as I shall show) in the notion of 


some recent evil but youi % grief, it is very plain, proceeded 
from the loss of your kingdom, not of your daughter, for 
you hated her, and perhaps with reason, but you could not 
calmly bear to part with your kingdom. But surely it 
is an impudent grief which preys upon a, man for not be 
ing able to command those that are free. Dionysius, it is 
true, the tyrant of Syracuse, when driven from his country, 
taught a school at Corinth ; so incapable was he of living 
without some authority. But what could be more impu 
dent than Tarquin, who made war upon those who could 
not bear his tyranny ; and, when he could not recover his 
kingdom by the aid of the forces of the Veientians and 
the Latins, is said to have betaken himself to Cuma, and 
to have died in that city of old age and grief ! 

XIII. Do you, then, think that it can befall a wise man 
to be oppressed with grief, that is to say, with misery ? 
for, as all perturbation is misery, grief is the rack itself. 
Lust is attended with heat, exulting joy with levity, fear 
with meanness, but grief with something greater than 
these ; it consumes, torments, afflicts, and disgraces a man ; 
it tears him, preys upon his mind, and utterly destroys 
him : if we do not so divest ourselves of it as to throw it 
completely off, we cannot be free from misery. And it is 
clear that there must be grief where anything has the ap 
pearance of a present sore and oppressing evil. Epicurus 
is of opinion that grief arises naturally from the imagina 
tion of any evil; so that whosoever is eye-witness of any 
great misfortune, if he conceives that the like may pos 
sibly befall himself, becomes sad instantly from such an 
idea. The Cyrenaics think that grief is not engendered 
by every kind of evil, but only by unexpected, unforeseen 
evil ; and that circumstance is, indeed, of no small effect 
on the heightening of grief; for whatsoever comes of a 
sudden appears more formidable. Hence these lines are 
deservedly commended : 

I knew my son, when first he drew his breath, 
Destined by fate to an untimely death ; 
And when I sent him to defend the Greeks, 
War was his business, not your sportive freaks. 

XIV. Therefore, this ruminating beforehand upon fut 
ure evils which you see at a distance makes their approach 


more tolerable ; and on this account what Euripides makes 
Theseus say is much commended. You will give me leave 
to translate them, as is usual with me : 

I treasured up what some learn'd sage did tell, 

And on my future misery did dwell ; 

I thought of bitter death, of being drove 

Far from my home by exile, and I strove 

With every evil to possess my mind, 

That, when they came, I the less care might find. 1 

But Euripides says that of himself, which Theseus said he 
had heard from some learned man, for the poet had been 
a pupil of Anaxagoras, who, as they relate, on hearing of 
the death of his son, said, " I knew that my son was mor 
tal;" which speech seems to intimate that such things 
afflict those men who have not thought on them before. 
Therefore, there is no doubt but that all those things which 
are considered evils are the heavier from not being fore 
seen. Though, notwithstanding this is not the only cir 
cumstance which occasions the greatest grief, still, as the 
mind, by foreseeing and preparing for it, has great power 
to make all grief the less, a man should at all times consid 
er all the events that may befall him in this life ; and cer 
tainly the excellence and divine nature of wisdom consists 
in taking a near view of, and gaining a thorough acquaint 
ance with, all human affairs, in not being surprised when 
anything happens, and in thinking, before the event, that 
there is nothing but what may come to pass. 

Wherefore ev'ry man, 
When his affairs go on most swimmingly, 
E'en then it most behooves to arm himself 
Against the coming storm : loss, danger, exile, 
Returning ever, let him look to meet ; 
His son in fault, wife dead, or daughter sick : 
All common accidents, and may have happen'd 
That nothing shall seem new or strange. But if 
Aught has fall'n out beyond his hopes, all that 
Let him account clear gain. 9 

1 This is from the Theseus : 

"ETUI 4e TOUTO Trapu <TO<JIOV TIVOC pa9u>v 
eir <ppovri6ar vovv cvnQopdr T' e/3a\X6/Uf|i/ 
(pwyut T' ffj.avrif irpointOeit irdrpat /urjr. 
Oavdrovt T' auipovt, Kai Kaniav aXXar 6Soi>t 
iu9, el TI nda\oifi' oiv t&6a%6v wore 
Ml] /UO( vtoprov irpoavecrov fjLa.\\ov &UKOI. 

2 Ter. Phorm. IT. i. 11. 


XV. Therefore, as Terence has so well expressed what 
he borrowed from philosophy, shall not we, from whose 
fountains he drew it, say the same thing in a better man 
ner, and abide by it with more steadiness ? Hence came 
that steady countenance, which, according to Xantippe, 
her husband Socrates always had; so that she said that 
she never observed any difference in his looks when he 
went out and when he came home. Yet the look of that 
old Roman, M. Crassus, who, as Lucilius says, never smiled 
but once in his lifetime, was not of this kind, but placid 
and serene, for so we are told. He, indeed, might well 
have had the same look at all times who never changed 
his, mind, from which the countenance derives its expres 
sion. So that I am ready to borrow of the Cyrenaics 
those arms against the accidents and events of life by 
means of which, by long premeditation, they break the 
force of all approaching evils; and at the same time I 
think that those very evils themselves arise more from 
opinion than nature, for if they were real, no forecast could 
make them lighter. But I shall speak more particularly 
on these matters after I have first considered Epicurtis's 
opinion, who thinks that all people must necessarily be 
uneasy who believe themselves to be in any evils, let them 
be either foreseen and expected, or habitual to them ; for 
with him evils are riot the less by reason of their contin 
uance, nor the lighter for having been foreseen ; and it 
is folly to ruminate on evils to come, or such as, perhaps, 
never may come : every evil is disagreeable enough when 
it does come; but he who is constantly considering that 
some evil may befall him is loading himself with a perpet 
ual evil ; and even should such evil never light on him, he 
voluntarily takes upon himself unnecessary misery, so that 
he is under constant uneasiness, whether he actually suf 
fers any evil, or only thinks of it. But he makes the alle 
viation of grief depend on two things a ceasing to think 
on evil, and a turning to the contemplation of pleasure. 
For he thinks that the mind may possibly be under the 
power of reason, and follow her directions : he forbids us, 
therefore, to mind trouble, and calls us off from sorrowful 
reflections; he throws a mist over our eyes to hinder us 
from the contemplation of misery. Having sounded a re- 



treat from this statement, he drives our thoughts on again, 
and encourages them to view and engage the whole mind 
in the various pleasures with which he thinks the life of 
a wise man abounds, either from reflecting on the past, 
or from the hope of what is to come. I have said these 
things in my own way ; the Epicureans have theirs. How 
ever, let us examine what they say ; how they say it is of 
little consequence. 

XVI. In the first place, they are wrong in forbidding 
men to premeditate on futurity and blaming their wish to 
do so ; for there is nothing that breaks the edge of grief 
and lightens it more than considering, during one's whole 
life, that there is nothing which it is impossible sho.uld 
happen, or than, considering what human nature is, on 
what conditions life was given, and how we may comply 
with them. The effect of which is that we are always 
grieving, but that we never do so ; for whoever reflects on 
the nature of things, the various turns of life, and the weak 
ness of human nature, grieves, indeed, at that reflection; 
but while so grieving he is, above all other times, behaving 
as a wise man, for he gains these two things by it : one, 
that while he is considering the state of human nature he 
is performing the especial duties of philosophy, and is pro 
vided with a triple medicine against adversity in the first 
place, because he has long reflected that such things might 
befall him, and this reflection by itself contributes much 
towards lessening and weakening all misfortunes ; and, sec 
ondly, because he is persuaded that we should bear all the 
accidents which can happen to man with the feelings and 
spirit of a man ; and, lastly, because he considers that what 
is blamable is the only evil. But it is not your fault that 
something has happened to you which it was impossible 
for man to avoid. For that withdrawing of our thoughts 
which he recommends when he calls us off from contem 
plating our misfortunes is an imaginary action ; for it is 
not in our power to dissemble or to forget those evils which 
lie heavy on us ; they tear, vex, and sting us they burn 
us up, and leave no breathing-time. And do you order us 
to forget them (for such forgetfulness is contrary to nat 
ure), and at the same time deprive us of the only assist 
ance which nature affords, the being accustomed to them ? 


For that, though it is but a slow medicine (I mean that 
which is brought by lapse of time), is still a very effectual 
one. You order me to employ my thoughts on something 
good, and forget my misfortunes. You would say some 
thing worthy a great philosopher if you thought those 
things good which are best suited to the dignity of human 

XVII. Should Pythagoras, Socrates, or Plato say to me, 
Why are you dejected or sad ? Why do you faint, and 
yield to fortune, which, perhaps, may have power to harass 
and disturb you, but should not quite unman you? There 
is great power in the virtues; rouse them, if they chance 
to droop. Take fortitude for your guide, which will give 
you such spirits that you will despise everything that can 
befall man, and look on it as a trifle. Add to this temper 
ance, which is moderation, and which was just now called 
frugality, which will not suffer you to do anything base or 
bad for what is worse or baser than an effeminate man ? 
Not even justice will suffer you to act in this manner, 
though she seems to have the least weight in this affair ; 
but still, notwithstanding, even she will inform you that 
you are doubly unjust when you both require what does 
not belong to you, inasmuch as though you who have been 
born mortal demand to be placed in the condition of the 
immortals, and at the same time you take it much to heart 
that you are to restore what was lent you. What answer 
will you make to prudence, who informs you that she is 
a virtue sufficient of herself both to teach you a good life 
and also to secure you a happy one? And, indeed, if she 
were fettered by external circumstances, and dependent on 
others, and if she did not originate in herself and return to 
herself, and also embrace everything in herself, so as to 
seek no adventitious aid from any quarter, I cannot imag 
ine why she should appear deserving of such lofty pane 
gyrics, or of being sought after with such excessive eager 
ness. Now, Epicurus, if you call me back to such goods 
as these, I will obey you, and follow you, and use you as 
my guide, and even forget, as you order me, all my mis 
fortunes ; and I will do this the more readily from a per 
suasion that they are not to be ranked among evils at all. 
But you are for bringing my thoughts over to pleasure. 


"What pleasures? Pleasures of the body, I imagine, or 
such as are recollected or imagined on account of the 
body. Is this all? Do I explain your opinion rightly? 
for your disciples are used to deny that we understand at 
all what Epicurus means. This is what he says, and what 
that subtle fellow, old Zeno, who is one of the sharpest of 
them, used, when I was attending lectures at Athens, to 
enforce and talk so loudly of; saying that he alone was 
happy who could enjoy present pleasure, and who was at 
the same time persuaded that he should enjoy it without 
pain, either during the whole or the greatest part of his 
life ; or if, should any pain interfere, if it was very sharp, 
then it must be short ; should it be of longer continuance, 
it would have more of what was sweet than bitter in it ; 
that whosoever reflected on these things would be happy, 
especially if satisfied with the good things which he had 
already enjoyed, and if he were without fear of death or 
of the Gods. 

XVIII. You have here a. representation of a happy life 
according to Epicurus, in the words of Zeno, so that there 
is no room for contradiction in any point. What, then ? 
Can the proposing and thinking of such a life make Thy- 
estes's grief the less, or ^Eetes's, of whom I spoke above, 
or Telamon's, who was driven from his country to penury 
and banishment ? in wonder at whom men exclaimed thus : 

Is this the man surpassing glory raised ? 

Is this that Telamon so highly praised 

By wondering Greece, at whose sight, like the sun, 

All others with diminish'd lustre shone ? 

Now, should any one, as the same author says, find his 
spirits sink with the loss of his fortune, he must apply to 
those grave philosophers of antiquity for relief, and not to 
these voluptuaries : for what great abundance of good do 
they promise ? Suppose that we allow that to be without 
pain is the chief good? Yet that is not called pleasure. 
But it is not necessary at present to go through the whole : 
the question is, to what point are we to advance in order 
to abate our grief? Grant that to be in pain is the great 
est evil : whosoever, then, has proceeded so far as not to 
be in pain, is he, therefore, in immediate possession of the 
greatest good? Why, Epicurus, do we use any evasions, 


and not allow in our own words the same feeling to be 
pleasure which you are used to boast of with such assur 
ance ? Are these your words or not ? This is what you 
say in that book which contains all the doctrine of your 
school; for I will perform on this occasion the office of 
a translator, lest any one should imagine that I am invent 
ing anything. Thus you speak : " Nor can I form any 
notion of the chief good, abstracted from those pleasures 
which are perceived by taste, or from what depends on 
hearing music, or abstracted from ideas raised by exter 
nal objects visible to the eye, or by agreeable motions, or 
from those other pleasures which are perceived by the 
whole man by means of any of his senses; nor can it pos 
sibly be said that the pleasures of the mind are excited 
only by what is good, for I have perceived men's minds 
to be pleased with the hopes of enjoying those things 
which I mentioned above, and with the idea that it should 
enjoy them without any interruption from pain." And 
these are his exact words, so that any one may understand 
what were the pleasures with which Epicurus was ac 
quainted. Then he speaks thus, a little lower down: "I 
have often inquired of those who have been called wise men 
what would be the remaining good if they should exclude 
from consideration all these pleasures, unless they meant 
to give us nothing but words. I could never learn any 
thing from them ; and unless they choose that all virtue 
and wisdom should vanish and come to nothing, they must 
say with me that the only road to happiness lies through 
those pleasures which I mentioned above." What fol 
lows is much the same, and his whole book on the chief 
good everywhere abounds with the same opinions. Will 
you, then, invite Telamon to this kind of life to ease his 
grief? And should you observe any one of your friends 
under affliction, would you rather prescribe him a stur 
geon than a treatise of Socrates? or advise him to listen 
to the music of a water-organ rather than to Plato? or 
lay before him the beauty and variety of some garden, 
put a nosegay to his nose, burn perfumes before him, and 
bid him crown himself with a garland of roses and wood 
bines ? Should you add one thing more, you would cer 
tainly wipe out all his grief. 


XIX. Epicurus must admit these arguments, or he must 
take out of his book what I just now said was a literal 
translation ; or, rather, he must destroy his whole book, 
for it is crammed full of pleasures. We must inquire, 
then, how we can ease him of his grief who speaks in this 

My present state proceeds from fortune's stings ; 
By birth I boast of a descent from kings ; 
Hence may you see from what a noble height 
I'm sunk by fortune to this abject plight. 

What ! to ease his grief, must we mix him a cup of sweet 
wine, or something of that kind? Lo ! the same poet pre 
sents us with another sentiment somewhere else : 

I, Hector, once so great, now claim your aid. 
We should assist her, for she looks out for help : 

Where shall I now apply, where seek support ? 
Where hence betake me, or to whom resort ? 
No means remain of comfort or of joy, 
In flames my palace, and in ruins Troy ; 
Each wall, so late superb, deformed nods, 
And not an altar's left t' appease the Gods. 

You know what should follow, and particularly this : 

Of father, country, and of friends bereft, 
Not one of all these sumptuous temples left-, 
Which, while the fortune of our house did stand, 
With rich-wrought ceilings spoke the artist's hand. 

O excellent poet ! though despised by those who sing the 
verses of Euphorion. He is sensible that all things which 
come on a sudden are harder to be borne. Therefore, 
when he had set off the riches of Priam to the best ad 
vantage, which had the appearance of a long continuance, 
what does he add ? 

Lo ! these fill perish'd in one blazing pile ; 
The foe old Priam of his life beguiled, 
And with his blood, thy altar, Jove, defiled. 

Admirable poetry ! There is something mournful in the 
subject, as well as in the words and measure. We must 
drive away this grief of hers: how is that to be done? 
Shall we lay her on a bed of down ; introduce a singer ; 


shall we burn cedar, or present her with some pleasant 
liquor, and provide her something to eat? Are these the 
good things which remove the most afflicting grief ? For 
you but just now said you knew of no other good. I 
should agree with Epicurus that we ought to be called off 
from grief to contemplate good things, if we could only 
agree upon what was good. 

XX. It may be said, What ! do you imagine Epicurus 
really meant this, and that he maintained anything so sen 
sual ? Indeed I do not imagine so, for I am sensible that 
lie has uttered many excellent things and sentiments, and 
delivered maxims of great weight. Therefore, as I said 
before, I am speaking of his acuteness, not of his morals. 
Though he should hold those pleasures in contempt which 
he just now commended, yet I must remember wherein 
he places the chief good. For he was not contented with 
barely saying this, but he has explained what he meant : 
he says that taste, and embraces, and sports, and music, 
and those forms which affect the eyes with pleasure, are 
the chief good. Have I invented this? have I misrepre 
sented him ? I should be glad to be confuted ; for what 
am I endeavoring at but to clear up truth in every ques 
tion? Well, but the same man says that pleasure is at 
its height where pain ceases, and that to be free from all 
pain is the very greatest pleasure. Here are three very 
great mistakes in a very few words. One is, that he con 
tradicts himself; for, but just now, he could not imagine 
anything good unless the senses were in a manner tickled 
with some pleasure ; but now he says that to be free from 
pain is the highest pleasure. Can any one contradict him 
self more? The next mistake is, that where there is natu 
rally a threefold division the first, to be pleased ; next, to 
be in pain ; the last, to be affected neither by pleasure nor 
pain he imagines the first and the last to be the same, 
and makes no difference between pleasure and a cessation 
of pain. The last mistake he falls into in common with 
some others, which is this : that as virtue is the most de 
sirable thing, and as philosophy has been investigated with 
a view to the attainment of it, he has separated the chief 
good from virtue. But he commends virtue, and that fre 
quently ; and indeed C. Gracchus, when he had made the 


largest distributions of the public money, and had ex 
hausted the treasury, nevertheless spoke much of defend 
ing the treasury. What signifies what men say when we 
see what they do? That Piso, who was surnamed Frugal, 
had always harangued against the law that was proposed 
for distributing the corn ; but when it had passed, though 
a man of consular dignity, he came to receive the corn. 
Gracchus observed Piso standing in the court, and asked 
him, in the hearing of the people, how it was consistent 
for him to take corn by a law he had himself opposed. 
"It was," said he, "against your distributing my goods 
to every man as you thought proper ; but, as you do so, I 
claim my share." Did not this grave and wise man suffi 
ciently show that the public revenue was dissipated by the 
Sempronian law? Read Gracchus's speeches, and you 
will pronounce him the advocate of the treasury. Epicu 
rus denies that any one can live pleasantly who does not 
lead a life of virtue ; he denies that fortune has any power 
over a wise man ; he prefers a spare diet to great plenty, 
and maintains that a wise man is always happy. All these 
things become a philosopher to say, but they are not con 
sistent with pleasure. But the reply is, that he doth not 
mean that pleasure : let him mean any pleasure, it must be 
such a one as makes no part of virtue. But suppose we 
are mistaken as to his pleasure ; are we so, too, as to his 
pain? I maintain, therefore, the impropriety of language 
which that man uses, when talking of virtue, who would 
measure every great evil by pain. 

XXI. And indeed the Epicureans, those best of men 
for there is no order of men more innocent complain 
that I take great pains to inveigh against Epicurus. We 
are rivals, I suppose, for some honor or distinction. I 
place the chief good in the mind, he in the body ; I in vir 
tue, he in pleasure ; and the Epicureans are up in arms, 
and implore the assistance of their neighbors, and many 
are ready to fly to their aid. But as for my part, I de 
clare that I am very indifferent about the matter, and that 
I consider the whole discussion which they are so anxious 
about at an end. For what ! is the contention about the 
Punic war? on which very subject, though M. Cato and 
L. Lentulus were of different opinions, still there was no 


difference between them. But these men behave with too 
much heat, especially as the opinions which they would 
uphold are no very spirited ones, and such as they dare 
not plead for either in the senate or before the assembly 
of the people, or before the army or the censors. But, 
however, I will argue with them another time, and with 
such a disposition that no quarrel shall arise between us ; 
for I shall be ready to yield to their opinions when found 
ed on truth. Only I must give them this advice: That 
were it ever so true, that a wise man regards nothing but 
the body, or, to express myself with more decency, nev 
er does anything except what is expedient, and views all 
things with exclusive reference to his own advantage, as 
such things are not very commendable, they should confine 
them to their own breasts, and leave off talking with that 
parade of them. 

XXII. AYhat remains is the opinion of the Cyrenaics, 
who think that men grieve when anything happens unex 
pectedly. And that is indeed, as I said before, a great 
aggravation of a misfortune ; and I know that it appeared 
so to Chrysippus " Whatever falls out unexpected is so 
much the heavier." But the whole question does not turn 
on this; though the sudden approach of an enemy some 
times occasions more confusion than it would if you had 
expected him, and a sudden storm at sea throws the sail 
ors into a greater fright than one which they have fore 
seen ; and it is the same in many other cases. But when 
you carefully consider the nature of what was expected, 
you will find nothing more than that all things which 
come on a sudden appear greater ; and this upon two ac 
counts : first of all, because you have not time to consider 
how great the accident is ; and, secondly, because you are 
probably persuaded that you could have guarded against 
it had you foreseen it, and therefore the misfortune, hav 
ing been seemingly encountered by your own fault, makes 
your grief the greater. That it is so, time evinces ; which, 
as it advances, brings with it so much mitigation that 
though the same misfortunes continue, the grief not only 
becomes the less, but in some cases is entirely removed. 
Many Carthaginians were slaves at Rome, and many Mace 
donians, when Perseus their king was taken prisoner. I saw, 


too, when I was a young man, some Corinthians in the Pelo 
ponnesus. They might all have lamented with Andromache. 

All these I saw ; 

but they had perhaps given over lamenting themselves, 
for by their countenances, and speech, and other gestures 
you might have taken them for Argives or Sicyonians. 
And I myself was more concerned at the ruined walls 
of Corinth than the Corinthians themselves were, whose 
minds by frequent reflection and time had become callous 
to such sights. I have read a book of Clitomachus, which 
he sent to his fellow-citi/ens who were prisoners, to com 
fort them after the destruction of Carthage. There is in it 
a treatise written by Carneades, which, as Clitomachus says, 
he had inserted into his book ; the subject was, " That it ap 
peared probable that a wise man would grieve at the state 
of subjection of his country," and all the arguments which 
Carneades used against this proposition are set down in 
the book. There the philosopher applies such a strong 
medicine to a fresh grief as would be quite unnecessary 
in one of any continuance ; nor, if this very book had been 
sent to the captives some years after, would it have found 
any wounds to cure, but only scars ; for grief, by a gen 
tle progress and slow degrees, wears away imperceptibly. 
Not that the circumstances which gave rise to it are alter 
ed, or can be, but that custom teaches what reason should 
that those things which before seemed to be of some con 
sequence are of no such great importance after all. 

XXIII. It may be said, What occasion is there to apply 
to reason, or to any sort of consolation such as we gen 
erally make use of, to mitigate the grief of the afflicted ? 
For we have this argument always at hand, that nothing 
ought to appear unexpected. But how will any one be 
enabled to bear his misfortunes the better by knowing 
that it is unavoidable that such things should happen 
to man? Saying this subtracts nothing from the sum of 
the grief : it only asserts that nothing has fallen out but 
what might have been anticipated ; and yet this manner 
of speaking has some little consolation in it, though I ap 
prehend not a great deal. Therefore those unlooked-for 
things have not so much force as to give rise to all our 


grief; the blow perhaps may fall the heavier, but whatever 
happens does not appear the greater on that account. No, 
it is the fact of its having happened lately, and not of its 
having befallen us unexpectedly, that makes it seem the 
greater. There are two ways, then, of discerning the 
truth, not only of things that seem evil, but of those that 
have the appearance of good. For we either inquire into 
the nature of the thing, of what description, and magni 
tude, and importance it is as sometimes with regard to 
poverty, the burden of which we may lighten when by our 
disputations we show how few things nature requires, and 
of what a trifling kind they are or, without any subtle ar 
guing, we refer them to examples, as here we instance a Soc 
rates, there a Diogenes, and then again that line in Cfficilius, 

Wisdom is oft conceal'd in mean attire. 

For as poverty is of equal weight with all, what reason 
can be given why what was borne by Fabricius should be 
spoken of by any one else as unsnpportable when it falls 
upon themselves? Of a piece with this is that other way 
of comforting, which consists in pointing out that nothing 
has happened but what is common to human nature; for 
this argument doth not only inform us what human nature 
is, but implies that all things are tolerable which others 
have borne and are bearing. 

XXIV. Is poverty the subject? They tell you of many 
who have submitted to it with patience. Is it the con 
tempt of honors ? They acquaint you with some who 
never enjoyed any, and were the happier for it ; and of 
those who have preferred a private retired life to public 
employment, mentioning their names with respect; they 
tell you of the verse 1 of that most powerful king who 
praises an old man, and pi-onounces him happy because he 
was unknown to fame and seemed likely to arrive at the 
hour of death in obscurity and without notice. Thus, 
too, they have examples for those who are deprived of 
their children : they who are under any great grief arc 
comforted by instances of like affliction ; and thus the en- 

1 Tliis refers to the speech of Agamemnon in Euripides, in the Iplii- 
genia in Aulis, 

ZtjXw ere, jfpov, 

f HAS &' ul'&pi!>V Of UKtll5vVOV 

ftiov iStiripair, ufvuii, uK\etjt. V. 15. 


durance of every misfortune is rendered more easy by the 
fact of others having undergone the same, and the fate of 
others causes what has happened to appear less important 
than it has been previously thought, and reflection thus 
discovers to us how much opinion had imposed on us. 
And this is what the Telamon declares, " I, when my son 
was born," etc. ; and thus Theseus, " I on my future mis 
ery did dwell;" and Anaxagoras, "I knew my son was 
mortal." All these men, by frequently reflecting on hu 
man affairs, had discovered that they were by no means to 
be estimated by the opinion of the multitude ; and, indeed, 
it seems to me to be pretty much the same case with those 
who consider beforehand as with those who derive their 
remedies from time, excepting that a kind of reason cures 
the one, and the other remedy is provided by nature ; by 
which we discover (and this contains the whole marrow 
of the matter) that what was imagined to be the greatest 
evil is by no means so great as to defeat the happiness of 
life. And the effect of this is, that the blow is greater by 
reason of its not haying been foreseen, and not, as they 
suppose, that when similar misfortunes befall two different 
people, that man only is affected with grief whom this 
calamity has befallen unexpectedly. So that some persons, 
under the oppression of grief, are said to have borne it 
actually worse for hearing of this common condition of 
man, that we are born under such conditions as render it 
impossible for a man to be exempt from all evil. 

XXV. For this reason Carneades, as I see our friend 
Antiochus writes, used to blame Chrysippus for commend 
ing these verses of Euripides : 

Man, doom'd to care, to pain, disease, and strife, 
Walks his short journey thro' the vale of life: 
Watchful attends the cradle and the grave, 
And passing generations longs to save : 
Last, dies himself: yet wherefore should we mourn? 
For man must to his kindred dust return; 
Submit to the destroying hand of fate, 
As ripen'd ears the harvest-sickle wait. 1 

1 This is a fragment from the Hypsipyle : 

f.(j>v fjifv ovSels ocrjir ov iroveT /3poru>v' 
$awTi TC reKva xcirep* au KTUTO.I veu, 
ai/Tot TC t)vt]0Kft. Kai Tti&' axOoinat flporol 
e'lt fr.v <pepovret friv' uva-fKaiiat 6' ?x e < 
fliov Oepi^ftv uia-rf KitpmflOV aTi'X". 


Ho would not allow a speech of this kind to avail at all to 
the cure of our grief, for he said it was a lamentable case 
itself that we were fallen into the hands of such a cruel 
fate; and that a speech like that, preaching up comfort 
from the misfortunes of another, was a comfort adapted 
only to those of a malevolent disposition. But to me it 
appears far otherwise; for the necessity of bearing what 
is the common condition of humanity forbids your resist 
ing the will of the Gods, and reminds you that you are a 
man, which reflection greatly alleviates grief; and the enu 
meration of these examples is not produced with a view to 
please those of a malevolent disposition, but in order that 
any one in affliction may be induced to bear what he ob 
serves many others have previously borne with tranquillity 
and moderation. For they who are falling to pieces, and 
cannot hold together through the greatness of their grief, 
should be supported by all kinds of assistance. From 
whence Chrysippus thinks that grief is called \vTrrj, as it 
were Xveris, that is to say, a dissolution of the whole man 
the whole of which I think may be pulled up by the 
roots by explaining, as I said at the beginning, the cause 
of grief; for it is nothing else but an opinion and judg 
ment formed of a present acute evil. And thus any bodi 
ly pain, let it be ever so grievous, may be endurable where 
any hopes are proposed of some considerable good ; and 
we receive such consolation from a virtuous and illustrious 
life that they who lead such lives are seldom attacked by 
grief, or but slightly affected by it. 

XXVI. But as besides this opinion of great evil there is 
this other added also that we ought to lamcnt-what has 
happened, that it is right so to do, and part of our duty, 
then is brought about that terrible disorder of mind, grief. 
And it is to this opinion that we owe all those various and 
horrid kinds of lamentation, that neglect of our persons, 
that womanish tearing of our cheeks, that striking on our 
thighs, breasts, and heads. Thus Agamemnon, in Homer 
and in Accius, 

Tears in his grief his uncomb'd locks j 1 

from whence comes that pleasant saying of Bion,that the 
1 IIoXXuc IK KKpaXiJG TrpodtXvuvovc 'iXictTO xVt,\ II. x. 15. 


foolish king in his sorrow tore away the hairs of his 
head, imagining that his grief would be alleviated by bald 
ness. But men do all these things from being persuaded 
that they ought to do so. And thus ^Escliines inveighs 
against Demosthenes for sacrificing within seven days af 
ter the death of his daughter. But with what eloquence, 
with what fluency, does he attack him ! what sentiments 
does he collect ! what words does he hurl against him ! 
You may see by this that an orator may do anything ; but 
nobody would approve of such license if it were not that 
we have an idea innate in our minds that every good man 
ought to lament the loss of a relation as bitterly as. possi 
ble. And it is owing to this that some men, when in sor 
row, betake themselves to deserts, as Homer says of Bel- 
lerophon : 

Distracted in his mind, 
Forsook by heaven, forsaking human kind, 
Wide o'er the Ale'ian field he chose to stray, 
A long, forlorn, uncomfortable way! 1 

And thus Niobe is feigned to have been turned into stone, 
from her never speaking, I suppose, in her grief. But 
they imagine Hecuba to have been converted into a bitch, 
from her rage and bitterness of mind. There are others 
who love to converse with solitude itself when in grief, as 
the nurse in Ennius, 

Fain would I to the heavens nnd earth relate 
Medea's ceaseless woes and cruel fate. 2 

XXVII. Now all these things are done in grief, from a 
persuasion of their truth and propriety and necessity; and 
it is plain that those who behave thus do so from a con 
viction of its being their duty; for should these mourners 
by chance drop their grief, and either act or speak for a 
moment in a more calm or cheerful manner, they presently 
check themselves and return to their lamentations again, 
and blame themselves for having been guilty of any inter- 

1 "Hroi o KainrtSiov TO 'AXrjiov aloe dXaro 
ov 6vfj.ov KdTtSwv, TTCLTOV dvdpwirwv d\etivt>)v. II. vi. 201. 

* This is a translation from Euripides : 

"QffO 1 'i/uepoc IJL' ti7ri)X#e yfi re K' ovpavy 

Xtfcu no\ovatj Sevpo Mn&'eia? n'-xar. Afecl. 5T. 


missions from their grief; and parents and masters gen 
erally correct children not by words only, but by blows, 
if they show any levity by either word or deed when the 
family is under affliction, and, as it were, oblige them to 
be sorrowful. What ! does it not appear, when you have 
ceased to mourn, and have discovered that your grief has 
been ineffectual, that the whole of that mourning was vol 
untary on your part? What does that man say in Ter 
ence who punishes himself, the Self-tormentor ? 

I think I do my son less harm, O Chremes, 
As long as I myself am miserable. 

He determines to be miserable: and can any one deter 
mine on anything against his will? 

I well might think that I deserved all evil. 

He would think he deserved any misfortune were he oth 
erwise than miserable ! Therefore, you see, the evil is in 
opinion, not in nature. How is it when some things do of 
themselves prevent your grieving at them? as in Homer, 
so many died and were buried daily that they had not 
leisure to grieve : where you find these lines 

The great, the bold, by thousands daily fall, 
And endless were the grief to weep for all. 
Eternal sorrows what avails to shed ? 
Greece honors not with solemn fasts the dead : 
Enough when death demands the brave to pay 
The tribute of a melancholy day. 
One chief with patience to the grave resign'd, 
Our care devolves on others left behind. 1 

Therefore it is in our own power to lay aside grief upon 
occasion ; and is there any opportunity (seeing the thing 
is in our own power) that we should let slip of getting rid 
of care and grief? It was plain that the friends of Cnams 
Pompeius, when they saw him fainting under his wounds, 
at the very moment of that most miserable and bitter 
sight were under great uneasiness how they themselves, 

1 Aii}V yap TroXXoi (cat tirtjTpifioi ?/jur iravrn 
iriirrovffiv, iron Ktv nq avairi'ivoiit iraroio ; 
<iX\a XP*I T v t*i v KaraOairrenfv, !>c Qnvrjm, 
t\oi>Tac, tir' 7//yan SaKpufnvrttf. 

Horn. 1!. xix. L'L'C. 


surrounded by. the enemy as they were, should escape, and 
were employed in nothing but encouraging the rowers and 
aiding their escape ; but when they reached Tyre, they 
began to grieve and lament over him. Therefore, as fear 
with them prevailed over grief, cannot reason and true 
philosophy have the same effect with a wise man ? 

XXVIII. But what is there more effectual to dispel 
grief than the discovery that it answers no purpose, and 
has been undergone to no account ? Therefore, if we can 
get rid of it, we need never have been subject to it. It 
must be acknowledged, then, that men take up grief wil 
fully and knowingly ; and this appears from the patience 
of those who, after they have been exercised in afflictions 
and are better able to bear whatever befalls them, suppose 
themselves hardened against fortune; as that person in 

Had this the first essay of fortune been, 
And I no storms thro' all my life had seen, 
Wild as a colt I'd broke from reason's sway ; 
But frequent griefs have taught me to obey. 1 

As, then, the frequent bearing of misery makes grief the 
lighter, we must necessarily perceive that the cause and 
original of it does not lie in the calamity itself. Your 
principal philosophers, or lovers of wisdom, though they 
have not yet arrived at perfect wisdom, are not they sen 
sible that they are in the greatest evil ? For they are fool 
ish, and foolishness is the greatest of all evils, and yet they 
lament not. How shall we account for this? Because 
opinion is not fixed upon that kind of evil, it is not our 
opinion that it is right, meet, and our duty to be uneasy 
because we are not all wise men. Whereas this opinion 
is strongly affixed to that uneasiness where mourning is 
concerned, which is the greatest of all grief. Therefore 
Aristotle, when he blames some ancient philosophers for 
imagining that by their genius they had brought philoso- 

1 This is one of the fragments of Euripides which we are unable to 
assign to any play in particular ; it occurs Var. Ed. Tr. Inc. 167. 

Ei /lev To3* iifJiiip irpwTov t]v KaKOVfjitvtp 
Kat fjLtj fniKfinv fin Sti't iroviati ivav<no\ovv 
e'tKof er^>a<5cie<i/ nv av, uit Vfol^v^a 
irui\ov t %(t\ivov apTtd)? Ac Aeyfjifvov' 
vvv &' afJifiXvs e'l/Jit, Kai KaTr)pTiK(u9 KaKwv. 


phy to the highest perfection, says, they must be either 
extremely foolish or extremely vain ; but that he himself 
could see that great improvements had been made therein 
in a few years, and that philosophy would in a little time 
arrive at perfection. And Theophrastus is reported to 
have reproached nature at his death for giving to stags 
and crows so long a life, which was of no use to them, 
but allowing only so short a span to men, to whom length 
of days would have been of the greatest use ; for if the 
life of man could have been lengthened, it would have been 
able to provide itself with all kinds of learning, and with 
arts in the greatest perfection. He lamented, therefore, 
that he was dying just when he had begun to discover 
these. What ! does not every grave and distinguished 
philosopher acknowledge himself ignorant of many things, 
and confess that there are many things which he must 
learn over and over again ? And yet, though these men 
are sensible that they are standing still in the very mid 
way of folly, than which nothing can be worse, they are 
under no great affliction, because no opinion that it is their 
duty to lament is ever mingled with this knowledge. 
What shall we say of those who think it unbecoming in a 
man to grieve ? among whom we may reckon Q. Maximus, 
when he buried his son that had been consul, and L. Pau- 
lus, who lost two sons within a few days of one another. 
Of the same opinion was M. Cato, who lost his son just 
after he had been elected praetor, and many others, whose 
names I have collected in my book on Consolation. Now 
what made these men so easy, but their persuasion that 
grief and lamentation was not becoming in a man ? There 
fore, as some give themselves up to grief from an opinion 
that it is right so to do, they refrained themselves, from 
an opinion that it was discreditable ; from which we may 
infer that grief is owing more to opinion than nature. 

XXIX. It may be said, on the other side, Who is so 
mad as to grieve of his own accord? Pain proceeds from 
nature, which you must submit to, say they, agreeably to 
what even your own Grantor teaches, for it presses and 
gains upon you unavoidably, and cannot possibly be re 
sisted. So that the very same Oiletis, in Sophocles, who 
had before comforted Telamon on the death of Ajax, on 



hearing of the death of his own son, is broken -hearted. 
On this alteration of his mind we have these lines : 

Show me the man so well by wisdom taught 
That what he charges to another's fault, 
When like affliction doth himself betide, 
True to his own wise counsel will abide. 1 

Now, when they urge these things, their endeavor is to 
prove that nature is absolutely and wholly irresistible; 
and yet the same people allow that we take greater grief 
on ourselves than nature requires. What madness is it, 
then, in us to require the same from others? But there 
are many reasons for our taking grief on us. The first is 
from the opinion of some evil, on the discovery and cer 
tainty of which grief comes of course. Besides, many peo 
ple are persuaded that they are doing something very ac 
ceptable to the dead when they lament bitterly over them. 
To these may be added a kind of womanish superstition, 
in imagining that when they have been stricken by the 
afflictions sent by the Gods, to acknowledge themselves 
afflicted and humbled by them is the readiest way of ap 
peasing them. But most men appear to be unaware what 
contradictions these things are full of. They commend 
those who die calmly, but they blame those who can bear 
the loss of another with the same calmness, as if it were 
possible that it should be true, as is occasionally said in 
love speeches, that any one can love another more than 
himself. There is, indeed, something excellent in this, and, 
if you examine it, something no less just than true, that we 
love those who ought to be most dear to us as well as we 
love ourselves; but to love them more than ourselves is 
absolutely impossible; nor is it desirable in friendship that 
I should love my friend more than myself, or that he should 
love me so; for this would occasion much confusion in 
life, and break in upon all the duties of it. 

1 This is only a fragment, preserved by Stobaeus : 

Toi/9 o' av ncficrTOvs Kai (ro<pu>-rurovs <ppfvi 
roiovai' iSott av, CHOC eo-ri vvv n&e, 
Ka\oif Katiwy irpaaffovn <Tu/i7rapaiV('acu' 
OTCLV ie ia!fji<av avdpot fVTV%ovt TO irpiv 
judffTcy' Ipfiar) TOV /3iou Tra\ivrpoirov, 
TU iroXXu <t>puv6a Kai KaKui? cipti/ifva. 


XXX. But we will speak of this another time : at pres 
ent it is sufficient not to attribute our misery to the loss of 
our friends, nor to love them more than, if they themselves 
could bo sensible of our conduct, they would approve of, 
or at least not more than we do ourselves. Now as to 
what they say, that some are not at all appeased by our 
consolations ; and, moreover, as- to what they add, that 
the comforters themselves acknowledge they are miserable 
when fortune varies the attack and falls on them in both 
these cases the solution is easy : for the fault here is not 
in nature, but in our own folly ; and much may be said 
against folly. But men who do not admit of consolation 
seem to bespeak misery for themselves ; and they who can 
not bear their misfortunes with that tumper which they 
recommend to others are not more faulty in this particu 
lar than most other persons ; for we see that covetous 
men find fault with others who are covetous, as do the 
vainglorious with those who appear too wholly devoted 
to the pursuit of glory. For it is the peculiar character 
istic of folly to perceive the vices of others, but to for 
get its own. But since we find that grief is removed 
by length of time, we have the greatest proof that the 
strength of it depends not merely on time, but on the daily 
consideration of it. For if the cause continues the same, 
and the man be the same, how can there be any alteration 
in the grief, if there is no change in what occasioned the 
grief, nor in him who grieves ? Therefore it is from daily 
reflecting that there is no real evil in the circumstance for 
which you grieve, and not from the length of time, that 
you procure a remedy for your grief. 

XXXI. Here some people talk of moderate grief; but 
if such be natural, what occasion is there for consolation ? 
for nature herself will determine the measure of it : but if 
it depends on and is caused by opinion, the whole opinion 
should be destroyed. I think that it has been sufficiently 
said, that grief arises from an opinion of some present 
evil, which includes this belief, that it is incumbent on us 
to grieve. To this definition Zeno has added, very justly, 
that the opinion of this present evil should be recent. Now 
this word recent they explain thus : those are not the only 
recent things which happened a little while ago ; but as 


long as there shall be any force, or vigor, or freshness in 
that imagined evil, so long it is entitled to the name of re 
cent. Take the case of Artemisia, the wife of Mausolus, 
King of Caria, who made that noble sepulchre at llalicar- 
nassus ; while she lived, she lived in grief, and died of it, 
being worn out by it, for that opinion was always recent 
with her: but you cannot call that recent which has al 
ready begun to decay through time. Now the duty of a 
comforter is, to remove grief entirely, to quiet it, or draw 
it off as much as you can, or else to keep it under, and 
prevent its spreading any further, and to divert one's at 
tention to other matters. There are some who think, with 
Cleanthes, that the only duty of a comforter is to prove 
that what one is lamenting is by no means an evil. Oth 
ers, as the Peripatetics, prefer urging that the evil is not 
great. Others, with Epicurus, seek to divert your atten 
tion from the evil to good : some think it sufficient to 
show that nothing has happened but what you had reason 
to expect ; and this is the practice of the Cyrenaics. But 
Chrysippus thinks that the main tiling in comforting is, 
to \ remove the opinion from the person who is grieving, 
that to grieve is his bounden duty. There are others who 
bring together all these various kinds of consolations, for 
people are differently affected ; as I have done myself in 
my book on Consolation ; for as my own mind was much 
disordered, I have attempted in that book to discover ev 
ery method of cure. But the proper season is as much to 
be attended to in the cure of the mind as of the body ; as 
Prometheus in ^Eschylus, on its being said to him, 

I think, Prometheus, you this tenet hold, 
That nil men's reason should their rage control ? 

Yes, when one reason properly applies ; 
Ill-timed advice will make the storm but rise. 1 

XXXII. But the principal medicine to be applied in 
consolation is, to maintain either that it is no evil at all, 

1 QK. OVKOVV Tlpo^irjOiv TOVTO yiyixoenctic on 

opyOc' voaovatjs ilalv larpol Xoyot. 
JT/o. lav rc iv Kaiptfi yt fia\9aaay Kiap 

KO.I fiff aQpiywvra Gvfibt' la\vaivii /3!<f. 

JEsdi. Prom. v. 378. 


or a very inconsiderable one : the next best to that is, to 
speak of the common condition of life, having a view, if 
possible, to the state of the person whom you comfort par 
ticularly. The third is, that it is folly to wear one's self 
out with grief which can avail nothing. For the comfort 
of Cleanthes is suitable only for a wise man, who is in no 
need of any comfort at all ; for could you persuade one in 
grief that nothing is an evil but what is base, you would 
not only cure him of grief, but folly. But the time for 
such precepts is not well chosen. Besides, Cleanthes does 
not seem to me sufficiently aware that affliction may very 
often proceed from that very thing which he himself al 
lows to be the greatest misfortune. For what shall we 
say? When Socrates had convinced Alcibiades, as we 
are told, that he had no distinctive qualifications as a man 
different from other people, and that, iu fact, there was no 
difference between him, though a man of the highest rank, 
and a porter; and when Alcibiades became uneasy at this, 
and entreated Socrates, with tears in his eyes, to make him 
a man of virtue, and to cure him of that mean position ; 
what shall we say to this, Cleanthes? Was there no evil 
in what afflicted Alcibiades thus? What strange things 
does Lycon say ? who, making light of grief, says that it 
arises from trifles, from things that affect our fortune or 
bodies, not from the evils of the mind. What, then ? did 
not the grief of Alcibiades proceed from the defects and 
evils of the mind ? I have already said enough of Epicu- 
rus's consolation. 

XXXIII. Nor is that consolation much to be relied on, 
though it is frequently practised, and sometimes has some 
effect, namely, " That you are not alone in this." It has 
its effect, as I said, but not always, nor with every person, 
for some reject it; but much depends on the application 
of it; for you ought rather to show, not how men in gen 
eral have been affected with such evils, but how men of 
sense have borne them. As to Chrysippus's method, it is 
certainly founded in truth; but it is difficult to apply it in 
time of distress. It is a work of no small difficulty to 
persuade a person in affliction that he grieves merely be 
cause he thinks it right so to do. Certainly, then, as in 
pleadings we do not state all cases alike (if I may adopt 


the language of lawyers for a moment), but adapt what 
we have to say to the time, to the nature of the subject 
under debate, and to the person ; so, too, in alleviating 
grief, regard should be had to what kind of cure the party 
to be comforted can admit of. But, somehow or other, 
we have rambled from what you originally proposed. For 
your question was concerning a wise man, with whom 
nothing can have the appearance of evil that is not dishon 
orable ; or at least, anything else would seem so small an 
evil that by his wisdom he would so overmatch it as to 
make it wholly disappear ; and such a man makes no addi 
tion to his grief through opinion, and never conceives it 
right to torment himself above measure, nor to wear him 
self out with grief, which is the meanest thing imagina 
ble. Reason, however, it seems, has demonstrated (though 
it was not directly our object at the moment to inquire 
whether anything can be called an evil except what is 
base) that it is in our power to discern that all the evil 
which there is in affliction has nothing natural in it, but is 
contracted by our own voluntary judgment of it, and the 
error of opinion. 

XXXIV. But the kind of affliction of which I have 
treated is that which is the greatest ; in order that when 
we have once got rid of that, it may appear a business of 
less consequence to look after remedies for the others. For 
there are certain things which are usually said about pov 
erty ; and also certain statements ordinarily applied to re 
tired and undistinguished life. There are particular trea 
tises on banishment, on the ruin of one's country, on sla 
very, on weakness, on blindness, and on every incident that 
can come under the name of an evil. The Greeks divide 
these into different treatises and distinct books ; but they 
do it for the sake of employment: not but that all such 
discussions are full of entertainment. And yet, as physi 
cians, in curing the whole body, attend to even the most 
insignificant part of the body which is at all disordered, 
so does philosophy act, after it has removed grief in gen 
eral ; still, if any other deficiency exists should poverty 
bite, should ignominy sting, should banishment bring a 
dark cloud over us, or should any of those things which I 
have just mentioned appear, there is for each its appropri- 


ate consolation, which you shall hear whenever you please. 
But we must have recourse again to the same original 
principle, that a wise man is free from all sorrow, because 
it is vain, because it answers no purpose, because it is not 
founded in nature, but on opinion and prejudice, and is 
engendered by a kind of invitation to grieve, when once 
men have imagined that it is their duty to do so. When, 
then, we have subtracted what is altogether voluntary, that 
mournful uneasiness will be removed ; yet some little anx 
iety, some slight pricking, will still remain. They may in 
deed call this natural, provided they give it not that hor 
rid, solemn, melancholy name of grief, which can by no 
means consist with wisdom. But how various and how 
bitter are the roots of grief ! Whatever they are, I pro 
pose, after having felled the trunk, to destroy them all; 
even if it should be necessary, by allotting a separate dis 
sertation to each, for I have leisure enough to do so, what 
ever time it may take up. But the principle of every un 
easiness is the same, though they may appear under differ 
ent names. For envy is an uneasiness ; so are emulation, 
detraction, anguish, sorrow, sadness, tribulation, lamenta 
tion, vexation, grief, trouble, affliction, and despair. The 
Stoics define all these different feelings; and all those 
words which I have mentioned belong to different things, 
and do not, as they seem, express the same ideas ; but they 
are to a certain extent distinct, as I shall make appear per 
haps in another place. These are those fibres of the roots 
which, as I said at first, must be traced back and cut off 
and destroyed, so that not one shall remain. You say it 
is a great and difficult undertaking : who denies it ? But 
what is there of any excellency which has not its difficulty ? 
Yet philosophy undertakes to effect it, provided we ad 
mit its superintendence. But enough of this. The other 
books, whenever you please, shall be ready for you here 
or anywhere else. 




I. I HAVE often wondered, Brutus, on many occasions, 
at the ingenuity and virtues of our countrymen ; but 
nothing has surprised me more" than their development 
in those studies, which, though they came somewhat late 
to us, have been transported into this city from Greece. 
For the system of auspices, and religious ceremonies, and 
courts of justice, and appeals to the people, the senate, 
the establishment of an army of cavalry and infantry, and 
the whole military discipline, were instituted as early as 
the foundation of the city by royal authority, partly too 
by laws, not without the assistance of the Gods. Then 
with what a surprising and incredible progress did our 
ancestors advance towards all kind of excellence, when 
once the republic was freed from the regal power ! Not 
that this is a proper occasion to treat of the manners and 
customs of our ancestors, or of the discipline and consti 
tution of the city; for I have elsewhere, particularly in 
the six books I wrote on the Republic, given a sufficient 
ly accurate account of ^hem. But while I am on this 
subject, and considering the study of philosophy, I meet 
with many reasons to imagine that those studies were 
brought to us from abroad, and not merely imported, but 
preserved and improved; for they had Pythagoras, a man 
of consummate wisdom and nobleness of character, in a 
manner, before their eyes, who was in Italy at the time 
that Lucius Brutus, the illustrious founder of your nobil 
ity, delivered his country from tyranny. As the doctrine 
of Pythagoras spread itself on all sides, it seems probable 
to me that it reached this city; and this is not only prob 
able of itself, but it does really appear to have been the 
case from many remains of it. For who can imagine 
that, when it flourished so much in that part of Italy 
which was called Magna Gracia, and in some of the 


largest and most powerful cities, in which, first the name 
of Pythagoras, and then that of those men who were af 
terward his followers, was in so high esteem ; who can 
imagine, I say, that our people could shut their ears to 
what was said by such learned men ? Besides, it is even 
my opinion that it was the great esteem in which the Py 
thagoreans were held, that gave rise to that opinion among 
those who came after him, that King Numa was a Py-' 
thagorean. For, being acquainted with the doctrine and 
principles of Pythagoras, and having heard from their an 
cestors that this king was a very wise and just man, and 
not being able to distinguish accurately between times 
and periods that were so remote, they inferred, from his 
being so eminent for his wisdom, that he had been a pu 
pil of Pythagoras. 

II. So far we proceed on conjecture. As to the ves 
tiges of the Pythagoreans, though I might collect many, 
I shall use but a few ; because they have no connection 
with our present purpose. For, as it is reported to have 
been a custom with them to deliver certain precepts in a 
more abstruse manner in verse, and to bring their minds 
from severe thought to a more composed state by songs 
and musical instruments ; so Cato, a writer of the very 
highest authority, says in his Origins, that it was custom 
ary with our ancestors for the guests at their entertain 
ments, every one in his turn, to celebrate the praises and 
virtues of illustrious men in song to the sound of the 
flute ; from whence it is clear that poems and songs were 
then composed for the voice. And, indeed, it is also clear 
that poetry was in fashion from the laws of the Twelve 
Tables, wherein it is provided that no song should be 
made to the injury of another. Another argument of the 
erudition of those times is, that they played on instru 
ments before the shrines of their Gods, and at the en 
tertainments of their magistrates ; but that custom was pe 
culiar to the sect I am speaking of. To me, indeed, that 
poem of Appius Ca3cus, which Panaetius commends so 
much in a certain letter of his which is addressed to 
Quintus Tubero, has all the marks of a Pythagorean au 
thor. We have many tilings derived from the Pythago 
reans in our customs, which I pass over, that we may 



not seem to have learned that elsewhere which we look 
upon ourselves as the inventors of. But to return to our 
purpose. How many great poets as well as orators have 
sprung up among us ! and in what a short time ! so that 
it is evident that our people could arrive at any learning 
as soon as they had an inclination for it. But of other 
studies I shall speak elsewhere if there is occasion, as I 
have already often done. 

III. The study of philosophy is certainly of long stand 
ing with us ; but yet I do not find that I can give you the 
names of any philosopher before the age of Laelius and 
Scipio, in whose younger days we find that Diogenes the 
Stoic, and Carneades the Academic, were sent as ambas 
sadors by the Athenians to our senate. And as these had 
never been concerned in public affairs, and one of them 
was a Cyrenean, the other a Babylonian, they certainly 
would never have been forced from their studies, nor 
chosen for that employment, unless the study of philoso 
phy had been in vogue with some of the great men at that 
time; who, though they might employ their pens on oth 
er subjects some on civil law, others on oratory, others 
on the history of former times yet promoted this most 
extensive of all arts, the principle of living well, even more 
by their life than by their writings. So that of that true 
and elegant philosophy (which was derived from Soc 
rates, and is still preserved by the Peripatetics and by 
the Stoics, though they express themselves differently in 
their disputes with the Academics) there are few or no 
Latin records; whether this proceeds from the impor 
tance of the thing itself, or from men's being otherwise em 
ployed, or from their concluding that the capacity of the 
people was not equal to the apprehension of them. But, 
during this silence, C. Amafinius arose and took upon him 
self to speak; on the publishing of whose writings the 
people were moved, and enlisted themselves chiefly under 
this sect, either because the doctrine was more easily 
understood, or because they were invited thereto by the 
pleasing thoughts of amusement, or that, because there 
was nothing better, they laid hold of what was offered 
them. And after Amafinius, when many of the same sen 
timents had written much about them, the Pythagoreans 


spread over all Italy: but that these doctrines should be 
so easily understood and approved of by the unlearned is 
a great proof that they were not written with any great 
subtlety, and they think their establishment to be owing 
to this. 

IV. But let every one defend his own opinion, for every 
one is at liberty to choose what he likes : I shall keep to 
my old custom ; and, being under no restraint from the 
laws of any particular school, which in philosophy every 
one must necessarily confine himself to, I shall always in 
quire what has the most probability in every question, and 
this system, which I have often practised on other occa 
sions, I have adhered closely to in my Tusculan Disputa 
tions. Therefore, as I have acquainted you with the dis 
putations of the three former days, this book shall con 
clude the discussion of the fourth day. When we had 
come down into the Academy, as we had done the former 
days, the business was carried on thus : 

M. Let any one say, who pleases, what he would wish 
to have discussed. 

A. I do not think a wise man can possibly be free from 
every perturbation of mind. 

M. He seemed by yesterday's discourse to be free from 
grief; unless you agreed with us only to avoid taking uptime. 

A. Not at all on that account, for I was extremely satis 
fied with your discourse. 

M. You do not think, then, that a wise man is subject 
to grief ? 

A. No, by no means. 

M. But if that cannot disorder the mind of a wise man, 
nothing else can. For what can such a man be disturbed 
by fear ? Fear proceeds from the same things when ab 
sent which occasion grief when present. Take away grief, 
then, and you remove fear. 

The two remaining perturbations are, a joy elate above 
measure, and lust; and if a wise man is not subject to 
these, his mind will be always at rest. 

A. I am entirely of that opinion. 

M. Which, then, shall we do? Shall I immediately 
crowd all my sails ? or shall I make use of my oars, as if 
I were just endeavoring to get clear of the harbor? 


A. What is it that you mean, for I do not exactly com 
prehend you? 

V. M. Because, Chrysippus and the Stoics, when they 
discuss the perturbations of the mind, make great part 
of their debate to consist in definitions and distinctions; 
while they employ but few words on the subject of cur 
ing the mind, and preventing it from being disordered. 
Whereas the Peripatetics bring a great many things to 
promote the cure of it, but have no regard to their thorny 
partitions and definitions. My question, then, was, whether 
I should instantly unfold the sails of my eloquence, or be 
content for a while to make less way with the oars of logic? 

A. Let it be so ; for by the employment of both these 
means the subject of our inquiry will be more thoroughly 

M. It is certainly the better way ; and should anything 
be too obscure, you may examine that afterward. 

A. I will do so ; but those very obscure points you will, 
as usual, deliver with more clearness than the Greeks. 

M. I will, indeed, endeavor to do so ; but it well re 
quires great attention, lest, by losing one word, the whole 
should escape you. What the Greeks call TrdOr) \ve choose 
to name perturbations (or disorders) rather than diseases ; 
in explaining which, I shall follow, first, that very old de 
scription of Pythagoras, and afterward that of Plato ; for 
they both divide the mind into two parts, and make one 
of these partake of reason, and the other they represent 
without it. In that which partakes of reason they place 
tranquillity, that is to say, a placid and undisturbed con 
stancy; to the other they assign the turbid motions of an 
ger and desire, which are contrary and opposite to reason. 
Let this, then, be our principle, the spring of all our rea 
sonings. But notwithstanding, I shall use the partitions 
and definitions of the Stoics in describing these perturba 
tions; who seem to me to have shown very great acute- 
ness on this question. 

VI. Zeno's definition, then, is this: "A perturbation" 
(which he calls a Trudoc) " is a commotion of the mind re 
pugnant to reason, and against nature." Some of them 
define it even more briefly, saying that a perturbation is 
a somewhat too vehement appetite; but by too vehement 


they mean an appetite that recedes further from the con 
stancy of nature. But they would have the divisions of 
perturbations to arise from two imagined goods, and from 
two imagined evils; and thus they become four: from the 
good proceed lust and joy joy having reference to some 
present good, and lust to some future one. They suppose 
fear and grief to proceed from evils: fear from something 
future, grief from something present ; for whatever things 
are dreaded as approaching always occasion grief when 
present. But joy and lust depend on the opinion of good ; 
as lust, being inflamed and provoked, is carried on eager 
ly towards what has the appearance of good ; and joy is 
transported and exults on obtaining what was desired : for 
we naturally pursue those things that have the appearance 
of good, and avoid the contrary. Wherefore, as soon as 
anything that has the appearance of good presents itself, 
nature incites us to endeavor to obtain it. Now, where 
this strong desire is consistent and founded on prudence, 
it is by the Stoics called /3ov\?7<7ie, and the name which we 
give it is volition; and this they allow to none but their 
wise man, and define it thus : Volition is a reasonable de 
sire; but whatever is incited too violently in opposition to 
reason, that is a lust, or an unbridled desire, which is dis 
coverable in all fools. And, therefore, when we are affect 
ed so as to be placed in any good condition, we are moved 
in two ways ; for when the mind is moved in a placid and 
calm motion, consistent with reason, that is called joy ; 
but when it exults with a vain, wanton exultation, or im 
moderate joy, then that feeling may be called immoderate 
ecstasy or transport, which they define to be an elation of 
the mind without reason. And as we naturally desire good 
things, so in like manner we naturally seek to avoid Avhat 
is evil; and this avoidance of which, if conducted in ac 
cordance with reason, is called caution ; and this the wise 
man alone is supposed to have : but that caution which is 
not under the guidance of reason, but is attended with a 
base and low dejection, is called fear. Fear is, therefore, 
caution destitute of reason. But a wise man is not affect 
ed by any present evil ; while the grief of a fool proceeds 
from being affected with an imaginary evil, by which his 
mind is contracted and sunk, since it is not under the do- 


minion of reason. This, then, is the first definition, which 
makes grief to consist in a shrinking of ttoe mind contra- 

^., ~ 

ry to the dictates of reason. Thus, there are four pertur 
bations, and but three calm rational emotions ; for grief 
has no exact opposite. 

VII. But they insist upon it that all perturbations de 
pend on opinion and judgment; therefore they define 
them more strictly, in order not only the better to show 
how blamable they are, but to discover how much they 
are in our power. Grief, then, is a recent opinion of some 
present evil, in which it seems to be right that the mind 
should shrink and be dejected. Joy is a recent opinion 
of a present good, in which it seems to be right that the 
mind should be elated. Fear is an opinion of an impend 
ing evil which we apprehend will be intolerable. Lust is 
an opinion of a good to come, which would be of advan 
tage were it already come, and present with us. But how 
ever I have named the judgments and opinions of pertur 
bations, their meaning is, not that merely the perturbations 
consist in them, but that the effects likewise of these per 
turbations do so ; as grief occasions a kind of painful 
pricking, and fear engenders a recoil or sudden abandon 
ment of the mind, joy gives rise to a profuse mirth, 
while lust is the parent of an unbridled habit of coveting. 
But that imagination, which I have included in all the 
above definitions, they would have to consist in assenting 
without warrantable grounds. Now, every perturbation 
has many subordinate parts annexed to it of the same 
kind. Grief is attended with enviousness (invidentia) I 
use that word for instruction's sake, though it is not so 
common ; because envy (inmdia) takes in not only the 
person who envies, but the person, too, who is envied em 
ulation, detraction, pity, vexation, mourning, sadness, trib 
ulation, sorrow, lamentation, solicitude, disquiet of mind, 
pain, despair, and many other similar feelings are so too. 
Under fear are comprehended sloth, shame, terror, coward 
ice, fainting, confusion, astonishment. In pleasure they 
comprehend malevolence that is, pleased at another's mis 
fortune delight, boastfulness, and the like. To lust they 
associate anger, fury, hatred, enmity, discord, wants, desire, 
and other feelings of that kind. 


But they define these in this manner : 

VIII. Enviousness (invidentia),t\\ey say, is a grief aris 
ing from the prosperous circumstances of another, which 
are in no degree injurious to the person who envies ; for 
where any one grieves at the prosperity of another, by 
which he is injured, such a one is not properly said to 
envy as when Agamemnon grieves at Hector's success ; 
but where any one, who is in no way hurt by the prosper 
ity of another, is in pain at his success, such a one envies 
indeed. Now the name " emulation " is taken in a double 
sense, so that the same woi'd may stand for praise and 
dispraise: for the imitation of virtue is called emulation 
(however, that sense of it I shall have no occasion for 
here, for that carries praise with it) ; but emulation is 
also a term applied to grief at another's enjoying what I 
desired to have, and am without. Detraction (and I mean 
by that, jealousy) is a grief even at another's enjoying 
what I had a great inclination for. Pity is a grief at the 
misery of another who suffers wrongfully; for no one is 
moved by pity at the punishment of a parricide or of a 
betrayer of his country. Vexation is a pressing grief. 
Mourning is a grief at the bitter death of one who was 
dear to you. Sadness is a grief attended with tears. 
Tribulation is a painful grief. Sorrow, an excruciating 
grief. Lamentation, a grief where we loudly bewail our 
selves. Solicitude, a pensive grief. Trouble, a continued 
grief. Affliction, a grief that harasses the body. De 
spair, a grief that excludes all hope of better things to 
come. But those feelings which are included under fear, 
they define thus : There is sloth, which is a dread of some 
ensuing labor; shame and terror, which affect the body 
hence blushing attends shame ; a paleness, and tremor, and 
chattering of the teeth attend terror cowardice, which is 
an apprehension of some approaching evil ; dread, a fear 
that unhinges the mind, whence comes that line of En- 

Then dread discharged all wisdom from my mind ; 

fainting is the associate and constant attendant on dread ; 
confusion, a fear that drives away all thought ; alarm, a 
continued fear. 


IX. The different species into which they divide pleas 
ure come under this description ; so that malevolence is a 
pleasure in the misfortunes of another, without any advan 
tage to yourself; delight, a pleasure that soothes the mind 
by agreeable impressions on the ear. What is said of the 
ear may be applied to the sight, to the touch, smell, and 
taste. All feelings of this kind are a sort of melting pleas 
ure that dissolves the mind. Boastfulncss is a pleasure 
that consists in making an appearance, and setting off your 
self with insolence. The subordinate species of lust they 
define in this manner: Anger is a lust of punishing any one 
who, as we imagine, has injured us without cause. Heat 
is anger just forming and beginning to exist, which the 
Greeks call 0t^tw<ne. Hatred is a settled anger. Enmity 
is anger waiting for an opportunity of revenge. Discord 
is a sharper anger conceived deeply in the mind and heart. 
Want an insatiable lust. Regret is when one eagerly 
wishes to see a person who is absent. Now here they 
have a distinction ; so that with them regret is a lust con 
ceived on hearing of certain things reported of some one, 
or of many, which the Greeks call Karrjyopi'i^ara, or predic 
aments ; as that they are in possession of riches and hon 
ors : but want is a lust for those very honors and riches. 
But these definers make intemperance the fountain of all 
these perturbations ; which is an absolute revolt from the 
mind and right reason a state so averse to all rules of 
reason that the appetites of the mind can by no means be 
governed and restrained. As, therefore, temperance ap 
peases these desires, making them obey right reason, and 
maintains the well-weighed judgments of the mind, so in 
temperance, which is in opposition to this, inflames, con 
founds, and puts every state of the mind into a violent mo 
tion. Thus, grief and fear, and every other perturbation 
of the mind, have their rise from intemperance. 

X. Just as distempers and sickness are bred in the 
body from the corruption of the blood, and the too great 
abundance of phlegm and bile, so the mind is deprived of 
its health, and disordered with sickness, from a confusion 
of depraved opinions that are in opposition to one another. 
From these perturbations arise, first, diseases, which they 
call vorri]p.ara ; and also those feelings which are in opposi- 


tion to these diseases, and which admit certain faulty dis 
tastes or loathings ; then come sicknesses, which are called 
uppwrrriipa-a by the Stoics, and these two have their op 
posite aversions. Here the Stoics, especially Chrysippns, 
give themselves unnecessary trouble to show the analogy 
which the diseases of the mind have to those of the body : 
but, overlooking all that they say as of little consequence, 
I shall treat only of the thing itself. Let us, then, under 
stand perturbation to imply a restlessness from the varie 
ty and confusion of contradictory opinions ; and that when 
this heat and disturbance of the mind is of any standing, 
and has taken up its residence, as it were, in the veins and 
marrow, then commence diseases and sickness, and those 
aversions which are in opposition to these diseases and 

XI. What I say here may be distinguished in thought, 
though they are iu fact the same ; inasmuch as they both 
have their rise from lust and joy. For should money be 
the object of our desire, and should we not instantly apply 
to reason, as if it were a kind of Socratic medicine to heal 
this desire, the evil glides into our veins, and cleaves to 
our bowels, and from thence proceeds a distemper or sick 
ness, which, when it is of any continuance, is incurable, and 
the name of this disease is covetousness. It is the same 
with other diseases ; as the desire of glory, a passion for 
women, to which the Greeks give the name of tyikoywda : 
and thus all other diseases and sicknesses are generated. 
But those feelings which are the contrary of these are 
supposed to have fear for their foundation, as a hatred of 
women, such as is displayed in the Woman-hater of Atil- 
ius; or the hatred of thp whole human species, as Timon 
is reported to have done, whom they call the Misanthrope. 
Of the same kind is inhospitality. And all these diseases 
proceed from a certain dread of such things as they hate 
and avoid. But they define sickness of mind to be an 
overweening opinion, and that fixed and deeply implanted 
in the heart, of something as very desirable which is by 
no means so. What proceeds from aversion, they define 
thus: a vehement idea of something to be avoided, deep 
ly implanted, and inherent in our minds, when there is no 
reason for avoiding it; and this kind of opinion is a de- 


liberate belief that one understands things of which one 
is wholly ignorant. Now, sickness of the mind has all 
these subordinate divisions: avarice, ambition, fondness 
for women, obstinacy, gluttony, drunkenness, covetousness, 
and other similar vices. But avarice is a violent opin 
ion about money, as if it were vehemently to be desired and 
sought after, which opinion is deeply implanted and inher 
ent in our minds ; and the definition of all the other simi 
lar feelings resembles these. But the definitions of aver 
sions are of this sort : inhospitality is a vehement opinion, 
deeply implanted and inherent in your mind, that you 
should avoid a stranger. Thus, too, the hatred of women, 
like that felt by Hippolytus, is defined ; and the hatred of 
the human species like that displayed by Timon. 

XII. But to come to the analogy of the state of body 
and mind, which I shall sometimes make use of, though 
more sparingly than the Stoics. Some men are more in 
clined to particular disorders than others ; and, therefore, 
we say that some people are rheumatic, others dropsical, 
not because they are so at present, but because they are 
often so : some are inclined to fear, others to some other 
perturbation. Thus in some there is a continual anxiety, 
owing to which they are anxious; in some a hastiness of 
temper, which differs from anger, as anxiety differs from 
anguish : for all are not anxious who are sometimes vexed, 
nor are they who are anxious always uneasy in that man 
ner: as there is a difference between being drunk and 
drunkenness ; and it is one thing to be a lover, another to 
be given to women. And this disposition of particular 
people to particular disorders is very common : for it re 
lates to all perturbations ; it appears in many vices, though 
it has no name. Some are, therefore, said to be envious, 
malevolent, spiteful, fearful, pitiful, from a propensity to 
those perturbations, not from their being always carried 
away by them. Now this propensity to these particular 
disorders may be called a sickness from analogy with the 
body; meaning, that is to say, nothing more than a pro 
pensity towards sickness. But with regard to whatever 
is good, as some are more inclined to different good qual 
ities than others, we may call this a facility or tendency: 
this tendency to evil is a proclivity or inclination to falling ; 


but where anything is neither good nor bad, it may have 
the former name. 

XIII. Even as there may be, with respect to the body, 
a disease, a sickness, and a defect, so it is with the mind. 
They call that a disease where the whole body is corrupt 
ed ; they call that sickness where a disease is attended 
with a weakness, and that a defect where the parts of 
the body are not well compacted together; from whence 
it follows that the members are misshapen, crooked, and 
deformed. So that these two, a disease and sickness, pro 
ceed from a violent concussion and perturbation of the 
health of the whole body; but a defect discovers itself 
even when the body is in perfect health. But a disease 
of the mind is drstinguishable only in thought from a sick 
ness. But a viciousness is a habit or affection discordant 
and inconsistent with itself through life. Thus it happens 
that, in the one case, a disease and sickness may arise 
from a corruption of opinions; in the other case, the con 
sequence may be inconstancy and inconsistency. For ev 
ery vice of the mind does not imply a disunion of parts; 
as is the case with those who are not far from being wise 
men. With them there is that affection which is incon 
sistent with itself while it is foolish; but it is not distort 
ed, nor depraved. But diseases and sicknesses are parts 
of viciousness ; but it is a question whether perturbations 
are parts of the same, for vices are permanent affections : 
perturbations are such as are restless ; so that they cannot 
be parts of permanent ones. As there is some analogy 
between the nature of the body and mind in evil, so is 
there in good ; for the distinctions of the body are beauty, 
strength, health, firmness, quickness of motion : the same 
may be said of the mind. The body is said to be in a 
good state when all those things on which health depends 
are consistent: the same may be said of the mind when 
its judgments and opinions are not at variance with one 
another. And this union is the virtue of the mind, which, 
according to some people, is temperance itself; others 
make it consist in an obedience to the precepts of temper 
ance, and a compliance with them, not allowing it to be 
any distinct species of itself. But, be it one or the other, 
it is to be found only in a wise man. But there is a cer- 


tain soundness of mind, which even a fool may have, when 
the perturbation of his niind is removed by the care and 
management of his physicians. And as what is called 
beauty arises from an exact proportion of the limbs, to 
gether with a certain sweetness of complexion, so the 
beauty of the mind consists in an equality and constancy 
of opinions and judgments, joined to a certain firmness 
and stability, pursuing virtue, or containing within itself 
the very essence of virtue. Besides, we give the very 
same names to the faculties of the mind as we do to the 
powers of the body, the nerves, and other powers of action. 
Thus the velocity of the body is called swiftness : a praise 
which we ascribe to the mind, from its running over in its 
thoughts so many things in so short a time. 

XIV. Herein, indeed, the mind and body are unlike : 
that though the mind when in perfect health may be visit 
ed by sickness, as the body may, yet the body may be dis 
ordered without our fault ; the mind cannot. For all the 
disorders and perturbations of the mind proceed from a 
neglect of reason ; these disorders, therefore, are confined 
to men: the beasts are not subject to such perturbations, 
though they act sometimes as if they had reason. There 
is a difference, too, between ingenious and dull men ; the 
ingenious, like the Corinthian brass, which is long before 
it receives rust, are longer before they fall into these per 
turbations, and are recovered sooner : the case is different 
with the dull. Nor does the mind of an ingenious man 
fall into every kind of perturbation, for it never yields to 
any that are brutish and savage; and some of their per 
turbations have at first even the appearance of humanity, 
as mercy, grief, and fear. But the sicknesses and diseases 
of the mind are thought to be harder to eradicate than 
those leading vices which are in opposition to virtues; for 
vices may be removed, though the diseases of the mind 
should continue, which diseases are not cured with that 
expedition with which vices are removed. I have now 
acquainted you with the arguments which the Stoics put 
forth with such exactness ; which they call logic, from 
their close arguing: and since -my discourse has got clear 
of these rocks, I will proceed witli the remainder of it, 
provided I have been sufficiently clear in what I have al- 


ready said, considering the obscurity of the subject I have 

A. Clear enough ; but should there be occasion for a 
more exact inquiry, I shall take another opportunity of 
asking you. I expect you now to hoist your sails, as you 
just now called them, and proceed on your course. 

XV. M. Since I have spoken before of virtue in other 
places, and shall often have occasion to speak again (for a 
great many questions that relate to life and manners arise 
from the spring of virtue) ; and since, as I say, virtue con 
sists in a settled and uniform affection of mind, making 
those persons pi-aiseworthy who are possessed of her, she 
herself also, independent of anything else, without regard 
to any advantage, must be praiseworthy ; for from her 
proceed good inclinations, opinions, actions, and the whole 
of right reason; though virtue may be defined in a few 
words to be right reason itself. The opposite to this is 
viciousness (for so I choose to translate what the Greeks 
call nmv'a, rather than by perverseness ; for perverseness is 
the name of a particular vice; but viciousness includes 
all), from whence arise those perturbations which, as I 
just now said, are turbid and violent motions of the mind, 
repugnant to reason, and enemies in a high degree to the 
peace of the mind and a tranquil life, for they introduce 
piercing and anxious cares, and afflict and debilitate the 
mind through fear; they violently inflame our hearts with 
exaggerated appetite, which is in reality an impotence of 
mind, utterly irreconcilable with temperance and moder 
ation, which we sometimes call desire, and sometimes lust, 
and which, should it even attain the object of its wishes, 
immediately becomes so elated that it loses all its resolu 
tion, and knows not what to pursue ; so that he was in the 
right who said "that exaggerated pleasure was the very 
greatest of mistakes." Virtue, then, alone can effect the 
cure of these evils. 

XVI. For what is not only more miserable, but more 
base and sordid, than a man afflicted, weakened, and op 
pressed with grief? And little short of this misery is one 
who dreads some approaching evil, and who, through 
faintheartedness, is under continual suspense. The poets, 
to express the greatness of this evil, imagine a stone to 


hang over the head of Tantalus, as a punishment for his 
wickedness, his pride, and his boasting. And this is the 
common punishment of folly; for there hangs over the 
head of every one whose mind revolts from reason some 
similar fear. And as these perturbations of the mind, 
grief and fear, are of a most wasting nature, so those two 
others, though of a more merry cast (I mean lust, which 
is always coveting something with eagerness, and empty 
mirth, which is an exulting joy), differ very little from 
madness. Hence you may understand what sort of person 
he is whom we call at one time moderate, at another mod 
est or temperate, at another constant and virtuous ; while 
sometimes we include all these names in the word frugal 
ity, as the crown of all ; for if that word did not include 
all virtues, it would never have been proverbial to say that 
a frugal man does everything rightly. But when the Stoics 
apply this saying to their wise man, they seem to exalt him 
too much, and to speak of him with too much admiration. 
XVII. Whoever, then, through moderation and constan 
cy, is at rest in his mind, and in calm possession of him 
self, so as neither to pine with care, nor be dejected with 
fear, nor to be inflamed with desire, coveting something 
greedily, nor relaxed by extravagant mirth such a man 
is that identical wise man whom we are inquiring for : he 
is the happy man, to whom nothing in this life seems in 
tolerable enough to depress him ; nothing exquisite enough 
to transport him unduly. For what is there in this life 
that can appear great to him who has acquainted himself 
with eternity and the utmost extent of the universe? For 
what is there in human knowledge, or the short span of 
this life, that can appear great to a wise man? whose mind 
is always so upon its guard that nothing can befall him 
which is unforeseen, nothing which is unexpected, noth 
ing, in short, which is new. Such a man takes so exact a 
survey on all sides of him, that he always knows the prop 
er place and spot to live in free from all the troubles and 
annoyances of life, and encounters every accident that fort 
une can bring upon him with a becoming calmness. Who 
ever conducts himself in this manner will be free from 
grief, and from every other perturbation ; and a mind free 
from these feelings renders men completely happy; win-re- 


as .1 mind disordered and drawn off from right and un 
erring reason loses at once, not only its resolution, but its 
health. Therefore the thoughts and declarations of the 
Peripatetics are soft and effeminate, for they say that the 
mind must necessarily be agitated, but at the same time 
they lay down certain bounds beyond which that agitation 
is not to proceed. And do you set bounds to vice ? or is 
it no vice to disobey reason? Does not reason sufficient 
ly declare that there is no real good which you should de 
sire too ardently, or the possession of which you should al 
low to transport you ? and that there is no evil that should 
be able to overwhelm you, or the suspicion of which should 
distract you? and that all these things assume too melan 
choly or too cheerful an appearance through our own er 
ror ? But if fools find this error lessened by time, so that, 
though the cause remains the same, they are not affected 
in the same manner, after some time, as they were at first, 
why, surely a wise man ought not to be influenced at all 
by it. But what are those degrees by which we are to 
limit it? Let us fix these degrees in grief, a difficult sub 
ject, and one much canvassed. Fannius writes that P. 
Rutilius took it much to heart that his brother was refused 
the consulship ; but he seems to have been too much af 
fected by this disappointment, for it was the occasion of 
bis death: he ought, therefore, to have borne it with more 
moderation. But let us suppose that while he was bear 
ing this with moderation, the death of his children had in 
tervened ; here would have started a fresh grief, which, ad 
mitting it to be moderate in itself, yet still must have been 
a great addition to the other. Now, to these let us add 
some acute pains of body, the loss of his fortune, blindness, 
banishment. Supposing, then, each separate misfortune to 
occasion a separate additional grief, the whole would be 
too great to be supportable. 

XVIII. The man who attempts to set bounds to vice 
acts like one who should throw himself headlong from 
Leucate, persuaded that he could stop himself whenever 
he pleased. Now, as that is impossible, so a perturbed 
and disordered mind cannot restrain itself, and stop where 
it pleases. Certainly whatever is bad in its increase is 
bad in its birth. Now grief and all other perturbations 


arc doubtless baneful in their progress, and have, there 
fore, no small share of evil at the beginning ; for they go 
on of themselves when once they depart from reason, for 
every weakness is self-indulgent, and indiscreetly launches 
out, and does not know where to stop. So that it makes 
no difference whether you approve of moderate perturba 
tions of mind, or of moderate injustice, moderate coward 
ice, and moderate intemperance; for whoever prescribes 
bounds to vice admits a part of it, which, as it is odious 
of itself, becomes the more so as it stands on slippery 
ground, and, being once set forward, glides on headlong, 
and cannot by any means be stopped. 

XIX. Why should I say more? Why should I add 
that the Peripatetics say that these perturbations, which 
we insist upon it should be extirpated, are not only natu 
ral, but were given to men by nature for a good purpose ? 
They usually talk in this manner. In the first place, they 
say much in praise of anger; they call it the whetstone 
of courage, and they say that angry men exert themselves 
most against an enemy or against a bad citizen: that those 
reasons are of little weight which are the motives of men 
who think thus, as it is a just war ; it becomes us to fight 
for our laws, our liberties, our country : they will allow no 
force to these arguments unless our courage is warmed by 
anger. Nor do they confine their argument to warriors; 
but their opinion is that no one can issue any rigid com 
mands without some bitterness and anger. In short, they 
have no notion of an orator either accusing or even de 
fending a client without he is spurred on by anger. And 
though this anger should not be real, still they think his 
words and gestures ought to wear the appearance of it, so 
that the action of the orator may excite the anger of his 
hearer. And they deny that any man has ever been seen 
who does not know what it is to be angry ; and they name 
what we call lenity by the bad appellation of indolence. 
Nor do they commend only this lust (for anger is, as I de- 
lined it above, the lust of revenge), but they maintain that 
kind of lust or desire to be given us by nature for very 
good purposes, saying that no one can execute anything 
well but what he is in earnest about. Themistocles used 
to walk in the public places in the night because he could 


not sleep; and when asked the reason, his answer was, that 
Miltiades's trophies kept him awake. Who has not heard 
how Demosthenes used to watch, who said that it gave 
him pain if any mechanic was up in a morning at his 
work before him? Lastly, they urge that some of the 
greatest philosophers would never have made that prog 
ress in their studies without some ardent desire spurring 
them on. We are informed that Pythagoras, Democritus, 
and Plato visited the remotest parts of the world ; for 
they thought that they ought to go wherever anything 
was to be learned. Now, it is not conceivable that these 
things could be effected by anything but by the greatest 
ardor of mind. 

XX. They say that even grief, which we have already 
said ought to be avoided as a monstrous and fierce beast, 
was appointed by nature, not without some good purpose, 
in order that men should lament when they had committed 
a fault, well knowing they had exposed themselves to cor 
rection, rebuke, and ignominy ; for they think that those 
who can bear ignominy and infamy without pain have ac 
quired a complete impunity for all sorts of crimes; for 
with them reproach is a stronger check than conscience. 
From whence we have that scene in Afranius borrowed 
from common life; for when the abandoned son saith, 
" Wretched that I am !" the severe father replies, 

Let him but grieve, no matter what the cause. 

And they say the other divisions of sorrow have their use ; 
that pity incites us to hasten to the assistance of others, 
and to alleviate the calamities of men who have unde 
servedly fallen into them ; that even envy and detraction 
are not without their use, as when a man sees that another 
person has attained what he cannot, or observes another 
to be equally successful with himself; that he who should 
take away fear would take away all industry in life, which 
those men exert in the greatest degree who are afraid of 
the laws and of the magistrates, who dread poverty, igno 
miny, death, and pain. But while they argue thus, they 
allow indeed of these feelings being retrenched, though 
they deny that they either can or should be plucked up 
by the roots; so that their opinion is that mediocrity is 


best in everything. When they reason in this manner, what 
think you is what they say worth attending to" or not? 

A. I think it is. I wait, therefore, to hear what you 
will say in reply to them. 

XXI. M. Perhaps I may find something to say; but I 
will make this observation first: do you take notice with 
what modesty the Academics behave themselves? for they 
speak plainly to the purpose. The Peripatetic are an 
swered by the Stoics ; they have my leave to figfct it out, 
who think myself no otherwise concerned than to inquire 
for what may seem to be most probable. Our present 
business is, then, to see if we can meet with anything in 
this question which is the probable, for beyond such ap 
proximation to truth as that human nature cannot proceed. 
The definition of a perturbation, as Zeno, I think, has 
rightly determined it, is thus : That a perturbation is a 
commotion of the mind against nature, in opposition to 
right reason; or, more briefly, thus, that a perturbation is 
a somewhat too vehement appetite; and when he says 
somewhat too vehement, he means such as is at a greater 
distance from the constant course of nature. What can I 
say to these definitions? The greater part of them we 
have from those who dispute with sagacity and acuteness : 
some of them expressions, indeed, such as the " ardors of 
the mind," and " the whetstones of virtue," savoring of the 
pomp of rhetoricians. As to the question, if a brave man 
can maintain his courage without becoming angry, it may 
be questioned with regard to the gladiators ; though we 
often observe much resolution even in them : they meet, 
converse, they make objections and demands, they agree 
about terms, so that they seem calm rather than angry. 
But let us admit a man of the name of Placideianns, who 
was one of that trade, to be in such a mind, as Lucilius 
relates of him, 

If for his blood you thirst, the task be mine; 
His laurels at my feet he shall resign ; 
Not but I know, before 1 reach his heart, 
First on myself a wound he will impart. 
I hate the man ; enraged I fight, and straight 
In action we had been, but that I wait 
Till each his sword had fitted to his hand. 
My rage I scarce can keep within command. 


XXII. But we see Ajax in Homer advancing to meet 
Hector in battle cheerfully, without any of this boister 
ous wrath. For he had no sooner taken up his anus than 
the first step which he made inspired his associates with 
joy, his enemies with fear; so that even Hector, as he is 
represented by Homer, 1 trembling, condemned himself for 
having challenged him to fight. Yet these heroes conversed 
together, calmly and quietly, before they engaged ; nor 
did they show any anger or outrageous behavior during 
the combat. Nor do I imagine that Torquatus, the first! 
who obtained this surname, was in a rage when he plun 
dered the Gaul of his collar ; or that Marcellus's courage 
at Clastidium was only owing to his anger. I could al 
most swear that Africanus, with whom we are better ac 
quainted, from our recollection of him being more recent, 
was noways inflamed by anger when he covered Alienus 
Pelignus with his shield, and drove his sword into the 
Enemy's breast. There may be some doubt of L. Brutus, 
whether he was not influenced by extraordinary hatred of 
the tyrant, so as to attack Aruns with more than usual 
rashness; for I observe that they mutually killed each 
other in close fight. Why, then, do you call in the assist 
ance of anger? Would courage, unless it began to get 

1 Cicero alludes here to II. vii. 211, which is thus translated by Pope : 

His massy javelin quivering in his hand, 
He stood the bulwark of the Grecian band ; 
Through every Argive heart new transport ran, 
All Troy stood trembling at the mighty man : 
E'en Hector paused, and with new doubt oppress'd, 
Pelt his great heart suspended in his breast; 
'Twas vain to seek retreat, and vain to fear, 
Himself had challenged, and the foe drew near. 

But Melmoth (Note on the Familiar Letters of Cicero, book ii. Let. 23) 
rightly accuses Cicero of having misunderstood Homer, who "by no 
means represents Hector as being thus totally dismayed at the approach 
of his adversary; and, indeed, it would have been inconsistent with the 
general character of that hero to have described him under such circum 
stances of terror." 

Ton lie Kai 'ApfetoiJJiff' ffijOfov e'la-opoiavref, 
Tpudr 5e rpojuos ^ivot {nrii\vOe -yma tKaarov, 
"EKTOpi &'<f #i/^or evi a-rrjOeaat irdraaaev. 

But there is a great difference, as Dr. Clarke remarks, between 0v/ud? 
evl arrfitcai trdraausv and napdir/ ffw arrjdcurv eOpuaKev, or rpofiof alvof 
i-fi.vOe -yvla. The Trojans, says Homer, trembled at the sight of Ajax. 
and even Hector himself felt some emotion in his breast. 


furious, lose its energy? What! do you imagine that 
Hercules, whom the very courage which you would try to 
represent as anger raised to heaven, was angry when he 
engaged the Erymanthian boar, or the Nemjean lion? Or 
was Theseus in a passion when he seized on the horns of 
the Marathonian bull ? Take care how you make courage 
to depend in the least on rage. For anger is altogetlu-r 
irrational, and that is not courage which is void of reason. 
XXIII. We ought to hold all things here in contempt ; 
death is to be looked on with indifference; pains and la 
bors must be considered as easily supportable. And when 
these sentiments are established on judgment and convic 
tion, then will that stout and firm courage take place ; 
unless you attribute to anger whatever is done with ve 
hemence, alacrity, and spirit. To me, indeed, that very 
Scipio 1 who was chief priest, that favorer of the saying of 
the Stoics, " That no private man could be a wise man," 
does not seem to be angry with Tiberius Gracchus, even 
when he left the consul in a hesitating frame of mind, and, 
though a private man himself, commanded, with the au 
thority of a consul, that all who meant well to the repub 
lic should follow him. I do not know whether I have done 
anything in the republic that has the appearance of cour 
age ; but if I have, I certainly did not do it in wrath. 
Doth anything come nearer madness than anger? And 
indeed Ennius has well defined it as the beginning of mad 
ness. The changing color, the alteration of our voice, the 
look of our eyes, our manner of fetching our breath, the 
little command we have over our words and actions, how 
little do all these things indicate a sound mind ! What 
can make a worse appearance than Homer's Achilles, or 
Agamemnon, during the quarrel? And as to Ajax, anger 
drove him into downright madness, and was the occasion 
of his death. Courage, therefore, does not want the as 
sistance of anger; it is sufficiently provided, armed, and 
prepared of itself. We may as well say that drunkenness 
or madness is of service to courage, because those who 

1 Cicero means Scipio Nasica, who, in the riots consequent on the re 
election of Tiberius Gracchus to the tribunate, 133 B.C., having called 
in vain on the consul, Mucius Scaevola, to save the republic, attacked 
Gracchus himself, \\lio was slain in the tumult. 


are mad or drunk often do a great many things with un 
usual vehemence. Ajax was always brave; but still he 
was most brave when he was in that state of frenzy: 

The greatest feat that Ajax e'er achieved 
Was, when his single arm the Greeks relieved. 
Quitting the field ; urged on by rising rage, 
Forced the declining troops again t' engage. 

Shall we say, then, that madness has its use? 

XXIV. Examine the definitions of courage: you will 
find it does not require the assistance of passion. Cour 
age is, then, an affection of mind that endures all things, 
being itself in proper subjection to the highest of all laws; 
or it may be called a firm maintenance of judgment in 
supporting or repelling everything that has a formidable 
appearance, or a knowledge of what is formidable or oth 
erwise, and maintaining invariably a stable judgment of 
all such things, so as to bear them or despise them ; or, in 
fewer woi'ds, according to Chrysippus (for the above defi 
nitions are Sphaerus's, a man of the first ability as a layer- 
down of definitions, as the Stoics think. But they are all 
pretty much alike: they give us only common notions, 
some one way, and some another). But what is Chrysip- 
pus's definition ? Fortitude, says he, is the knowledge of 
all things that are bearable, or an affection of the mind 
which bears and supports everything in obedience to the 
chief law of reason without fear. Now, though we should 
attack these men in the same manner as Carneades used 
to do, I fear they are the only real philosophers; for 
which of these definitions is there which does not explain 
that obscure and intricate notion of courage which every 
man conceives within himself? And when it is thus ex 
plained, what can a warrior, a commander, or an orator 
want more? And no one can think that they will be 
unable to behave themselves courageously without anger. 
What ! do not even the Stoics, who maintain that all fools 
are mad, make the same inferences? for, take away per 
turbations, especially a hastiness of temper, and they will 
appear to talk very absurdly. But what they assert is 
this : they say that all fools are mad, as all dunghills stink ; 
not that they always do so, but stir them, and you will 
perceive it. Aud in like manner, a warm-tempered man is 


not always in a passion ; but provoke him, and you will 
see him run mad. Now, that very warlike anger, which 
is of such service in war, what is the use of it to him 
when he is at home with his wife, children, and family? 
Is there, then, anything that a disturbed mind can do bet 
ter than one which is calm and steady ? Or can any one 
be angry without a perturbation of mind ? Our people, 
then, were in the right, who, as all vices depend on our 
manners, and nothing is worse than a passionate dispo 
sition, called angry men the only morose men. 1 

XXV. Anger is in no wise becoming in an orator, 
though it is not amiss to affect it. Do you imagine that 
I am angry when in pleading I use any extraordinary ve 
hemence and sharpness? What! when I write out my 
speeches after all is over and past, am I then angry while 
writing? Or do you think ^Esopus was ever angry when 
he acted, or Accius was so when he wrote? Those men, 
indeed, act very well, but the orator acts better than the 
player, provided he be really an orator; but, then, they 
carry it on without passion, and with a composed mind. 
But what wantonness is it to commend lust ! You pro 
duce Themistocles and Demosthenes ; to these you add 
Pythagoras, Democritus, and Plato. What ! do you then 
call studies lust? But these studies of the most excellent 
and admirable things, such as those were which you bring 
forward on all occasions, ought to be composed and tran 
quil; and what kind of philosophers are they who com 
mend grief, than which nothing is more detestable ? Afra- 
nius has said much to this purpose: 

Let him but grieve, no matter what the cause. 

But he spoke this of a debauched and dissolute youth. 
But we are inquiring into the conduct of a constant and 
wise man. We may even allow a centurion or standard- 
bearer to be angry, or any others, whom, not to explain 
too far the mysteries of the rhetoricians, I shall not men 
tion here ; for to touch the passions, where reason cannot 
be conic at, may have its use ; but my inquiry, as I often 
repeat, is about a wise man. 

1 Morosus is evidently derived from mores " Morosus, mos, stubborn 
ness, self-will, etc." Riddle and Arnold, Lat. Diet. 


XXVI. But even envy, detraction, pity, have their use. 
Why should you pity rather than assist, if it is in your 
power to do so? Is it because you cannot be liberal with 
out pity ? We should not take sorrows on ourselves upon 
another's account; but we ought to relieve others of their 
grief if we can. But to detract from another's reputation, 
or to rival him with that vicious emulation Avhich resem 
bles an enmity, of what use can that conduct be? Now, 
envy implies being uneasy at another's good because one 
does not enjoy it one's self; but detraction is the being 
uneasy at another's good, merely because he enjoys it. 
How can it be right that you should voluntarily grieve, 
rather than take the trouble of acquiring what you want 
to have ? for it is madness in the highest degree to desire 
to be the only one that has any particular happiness. But 
who can with correctness speak in praise of a mediocrity 
of evils? Can any one in whom there is lust or desire be 
otherwise than libidinous or desirous ? or can a man who 
is occupied by anger avoid being angry? or can one who 
is exposed to any vexation escape being vexed ? or if he is 
under the influence of fear, must he not be fearful? Do 
we look, then, on the libidinous, the angry, the anxious, and 
the timid man, as persons of wisdom, of excellence? of 
which I could speak very copiously and diffusely, but I 
wish to be as concise as possible. And so I will merely 
say that wisdom is an acquaintance with all divine and 
human affairs, and a knowledge of the cause of everything. 
Hence it is that it imitates what is divine, and looks upon 
all human concerns as inferior to virtue. Did you, then, 
say that it was your opinion that such a man was as nat 
urally liable to perturbation as the sea is exposed to winds? 
What is there that can discompose such gravity and con 
stancy ? Anything sudden or unforeseen ? How can any 
thing of this kind befall one to whom nothing is sudden 
and unforeseen that can happen to man ? Now, as to their 
saying that redundancies should be pared off, and only 
what is natural remain, what, I pray you, can be natural 
which may be too exuberant? 

XXVII. All these assertions proceed from the roots of 
errors, which must be entirely plucked up and destroyed, 
not pared and amputated. But as I suspect that your in- 


quiry is not so much respecting the wise man as concern 
ing yourself (for you allow that lie is free from all pertur 
bations, and you would willingly be so too yourself), let us 
see what remedies there are which may be applied by phi 
losophy to the diseases of the mind. There is certainly 
some remedy; nor has nature been so unkind to the hu 
man race as to have discovered so many things salutary to 
the body, and none which are medicinal to the mind. She 
has even been kinder to the mind than to the body ; inas 
much as you must seek abroad for the assistance which 
the body requires, while the mind has all that it requires 
within itself. But in proportion as the excellency of the 
mind is of a higher and more divine nature, the more dil 
igence does it require ; and therefore reason, when it is 
well .applied, discovei'S what is best, but when it is neg 
lected, it becomes involved in many errors. I shall apply, 
then, all my discourse to you ; for though you pretend to 
be inquiring about the wise man, your inquiry may pos 
sibly be about yourself. Various, then, are the cures of 
those perturbations which I have expounded, for every dis 
order is not to be appeased the same way. One medicine 
must be applied to the man who mourns, another to the 
pitiful, another to the person who envies ; for there is this 
difference to be maintained in all the four perturbations : 
we are to consider whether our discourse had better be 
directed to perturbations in general, which are a contempt 
of reason, or a somewhat too vehement appetite ; or wheth 
er it would be better applied to particular descriptions, as, 
for instance, to fear, lust, and the rest, and whether it ap 
pears preferable to endeavor to remove that which has oc 
casioned the grief, or rather to attempt wholly to eradi 
cate every kind of grief. As, should any one grieve that 
he is poor, the question is, Would you maintain poverty to 
be no evil, or would you contend that a man ought not to 
grieve at anything? Certainly this last is the best course; 
for should you not convince him with regard to poverty, 
you must allow him to grieve ; but if you remove grief by 
particular arguments, such as I used yesterday, the evil of 
poverty is in some manner removed. 

XXVIII. But any perturbation of the mind of this sort 
may be, as it were, wiped away by the method of appeas- 


ing the mind, if you succeed in showing that there is no 
good in that which has given rise to joy and lust, nor any 
evil in that which has occasioned fear or grief. But cer 
tainly the most effectual cure is to be achieved by show 
ing that all perturbations are of themselves vicious, and 
have nothing natural or necessary in them. As we see, 
grief itself is easily softened when we charge those who 
grieve w r ith weakness and an effeminate mind; or when 
we commend the gravity and constancy of those who bear 
calmly whatever befalls them here, as accidents to which 
all men are liable; and, indeed, this is generally the feeling 
of those who look on these as real evils, but yet think they 
should be borne with resignation. One imagines pleasure 
to be a good, another money ; and yet the one may be 
called off from intemperance, the other from covetousness. 
The other method and address, which, at the same time 
that it removes the false opinion, withdraws the disorder, 
has more subtlety in it ; but it seldom succeeds, and is 
not applicable to vulgar minds, for there are some dis 
eases which that medicine can by no means remove. For, 
should any one be uneasy because he is without virtue, 
without courage, destitute of a sense of duty or honesty, 
his anxiety proceeds from a real evil; and yet we must ap 
ply another method of cure to him, and such a one as 
all the philosophers, however they may differ about other 
things, agree in. For they must necessarily agree in this, 
that commotions of the mind in opposition to right rea 
son are vicious ; and that even admitting those things to 
be evils which occasion fear or grief, and those to be 
goods which provoke desire or joy, yet that very com 
motion itself is vicious ; for we mean by the expressions 
magnanimous and brave, one who is resolute, sedate, 
grave, and superior to everything in this life; but one 
who either grieves, or fears, or covets, or is transported 
with passion, cannot come under that denomination ; for 
these things are consistent only with those who look on 
the things of this world as things with which their minds 
are unequal to contend. 

XXIX. Wherefore, as I before said, the philosophers 
have all one method of cure, so that we need say nothing 
about what sort of thing that is which disturbs the mind, 


but we must speak only concerning the perturbation itself. 
Thus, first, with regard to desire itself, when the business 
is only to remove that, the inquiry is not to be, whether 
that thing be good or evil which provokes lust, but the 
lust itself is to be removed; so that whether whatever is 
honest is the chief good, or whether it consists in pleasure, 
or in both these things together, or in the other three 
kinds of goods, yet should there be in any one too vehe 
ment an appetite for even virtue itself, the whole discourse 
should be directed to the deterring him from that vehe 
mence. But human nature, when placed in a conspicuous 
point of view, gives us every argument for appeasing the 
mind, and, to make this the more distinct, the laws and 
conditions of life should be explained in our discourse. 
Therefore, it was not without reason that Socrates is re 
ported, when Euripides was exhibiting his play called 
Orestes, to have repeated the first three verses of that 

What tragic story men can mournful tell, 
Whate'er from fate or from the gods befell, 
That human nature can support * 

But, in order lo persuade those to whom any misfortune 
has happened that they can and ought to bear it, it is very 
useful to set before them an enumeration of other persons 
who have borne similar calamities. Indeed, the method of 
appeasing grief was explained in my dispute of yester 
day, and in my book on Consolation, which I wrote in the 
midst of my own grief; for I was not myself so wise a 
man as to be insensible to grief, and I used this, notwith 
standing Chrysippus's advice to the contrary, who is 
against applying a medicine to the agitations of the mind 
while they are fresh ; but I did it, and committed a vio 
lence on nature, that the greatness of my grief might give 
way to the greatness of the medicine. 

XXX. But fear borders upon grief, of which I have al 
ready said enough ; but I must say a little more on that. 
Now, as grief proceeds from what is present, so does fear 

J In the original they run thus : 

Owe itrriv ov&fv 6eivov Si&' eiirciV two?, 
OvSf iraOot, ov6i fn/ji(popu Ofij\aTOt 
T Ht OVK av upon' u\t>os ui'tiputirov (pvatt. 


from future evil; so that some have said that fear is a 
certain part of grief : others have called fear the harbin 
ger of trouble, which, as it were, introduces the ensuing 
evil. Now, the reasons that make what is present sup 
portable, make what is to come very contemptible; for, 
with regard to both, we should take care to do nothing 
low or grovelling, soft or effeminate, mean or abject. But, 
notwithstanding we should speak of the inconstancy, im 
becility, and levity of fear itself, yet it is of very great 
service to speak contemptuously of those very things of 
which we are afraid. So that it fell out very well, wheth 
er it was by accident or design, that I disputed the first 
and second day on death and pain the two things that 
are the most dreaded : now, if what I then said was ap 
proved of, we are in a great degree freed from fear. And 
this is sufficient, as far as regards the opinion of evils. 

XXXI. Proceed we now to what are goods that is to 
say, to joy and desire. To me, indeed, one thing alone 
seems to embrace the question of all that relates to the 
perturbations of the mind the fact, namely, that all per 
turbations are in our own power ; that they are taken up 
upon opinion, and are voluntary. This error, then, must 
be got rid of; this opinion must be removed ; and, as with 
regard to imagined evils, we are to make them more sup 
portable, so with respect to goods, we are to lessen the 
violent effects of those things which are called great and 
joyous. But one thing is to be observed, that equally re 
lates both to good and evil : that, should it be difficult to 
persuade any one that none of those things which disturb 
the mind are to be looked on as good or evil, yet a differ 
ent cure is to be applied to different feelings; and the 
malevolent person is to be corrected by one way of reason 
ing, the lover by another, the anxious man by another, and 
the fearful by another : and it would be easy for any one 
who pursues the best approved method of reasoning, with 
regard to good and evil, to maintain that no fool can be 
affected with joy, as he never can have anything good. 
But, at present, my discourse proceeds upon the common 
received notions. Let, then, honors, riches, pleasures, and 
the rest be the very good things which they are imagined 
to be; yet a too elevated and exulting joy on the posses- 



sion of them is unbecoming; just as, though it might be 
allowable to laugh, to giggle would be indecent. Thus, a 
mind enlarged by joy is as blamable as a contraction of it 
by grief; and eager longing is a sign of as much levity in 
desiring as immoderate joy is in possessing ; and, as those 
who are too dejected are said to be effeminate, so they 
who are too elated with joy are properly called volatile ; 
and as feeling envy is a part of grief, and the being 
pleased with another's misfortune is a kind of joy, both 
these feelings are usually corrected by showing the wild- 
ness and insensibility of them : and as it becomes a man 
to be cautious, but it is unbecoming in him to be fearful, 
so to be pleased is proper, but to be joyful improper. I 
have, in order that I might be the better understood, dis 
tinguished pleasure from joy. I have already said above, 
that a contraction of the mind can never be right, but that 
an elation of it may; for the joy of Hector in NaBvius is 
one thing 

'Tis joy indeed to hear my praises sung 

By you, who are the theme of honor's tongue 

but that of the character in Trabea another : " The kind 
procuress, allured by my money, will observe my nod, will 
watch my desires, and study my will. If I but move the 
door with my little finger, instantly it flies open ; and if 
Chrysis should unexpectedly discover me, she will run 
with joy to meet me, and throw herself into my arms." 
Now he will tell you how excellent he thinks this : 

Not even fortune herself is so fortunate. 

XXXII. Any one who attends the least to the subject 
will be convinced how unbecoming this joy is. And as 
they are very shameful who are immoderately delighted 
with the enjoyment of venereal pleasures, so are they very 
scandalous who lust vehemently after them. And all that 
which is commonly called love (and, believe me, I can find 
out no other name to call it by) is of such a trivial nature 
that nothing, I think, is to be compared to it : of which 
Csecilius says, 

I hold the man of every sense bereaved 

Who grants not Love to be of Gods the chief: 


Whose mighty power whate'er is good effects, 
Who gives to each his beauty and defects : 
Hence, health and sickness ; wit and folly, hence, 
The God that love and hatred doth dispense ! 

An excellent corrector of life this same poetry, which 
thinks that love, the promoter of debauchery and vanity, 
should have a place in the council of the Gods ! I am 
speaking of comedy, which could not subsist at all without 
our approving of these debaucheries. But what said that 
chief of the Argonauts in tragedy? 

My life I owe to honor less than love. 

What, then, are we to say of this love of Medea? what a 
train of miseries did it occasion ! And yet the same woman 
has the assurance to say to her father, in another poet, that 
she had a husband 

Dearer by love than ever fathers were. 

XXXIII. However, we may allow the poets to trifle, in 
whose fables we see Jupiter himself engaged in these de 
baucheries: but let us apply to the masters of virtue 
the philosophers who deny love to be anything carnal; 
and in this they differ from Epicurus, who, I think, is not 
much mistaken. For what is that love of friendship? 
How comes it that no one is in love with a deformed 
young man, or a handsome old one ? I am of opinion 
that this love of men had its rise from the Gymnastics of 
the Greeks, where these kinds of loves are admissible and 
permitted ; therefore Ennius spoke well : 

The censure of this crime to those is due 
Who naked bodies first exposed to view. 

Now, supposing them chaste, which I think is hardly pos 
sible, they are uneasy and distressed, and the more so be 
cause they contain and refrain themselves. But, to pass 
over the love of women, where nature has allowed more 
liberty, who can misunderstand the poets in their rape of 
Ganymede, or not apprehend what Laius says, and what 
he desires, in Euripides ? Lastly, what have the principal 
poets and the most learned men published of themselves 
in their poems and songs ? What doth Alca3us, who was 


distinguished in his own republic for his bravery, write on 
the love of young men? And as for Anacreon's poetry, it 
is wholly on love. But Ibycus of Rhegium appears, from 
his writings, to have had this love stronger on him than 
all the rest. 

XXXIV. Now we see that the loves of all these writ 
ers were entirely libidinous. There have arisen also some 
among us philosophers (and Plato is at the head of them, 
whom Dicsearchus blames not without reason) who have 
countenanced love. The Stoics, in truth, say, not only 
that their wise man may be a lover, but they even define 
love itself as an endeavor to originate friendship out of 
the appearance of beauty. Now, provided there is any 
one in the nature of things without desire, without care, 
without a sigh, such a one may be a lover ; for he is free 
from all lust : but I have nothing to say to him, as it is 
lust of which I am now speaking. But should there be 
any love as there certainly is which is but little, or per 
haps not at all, short of madness, such as his is in the 

Should there be any God whose care I am 

it is incumbent on all the Gods to see that he enjoys his 

amorous pleasure. 

Wretch that I am ! 

Nothing is more true, and he says very appropriately, 
What, are you sane, who at this rate lament ? 

He seems even to his friends to be out of his senses : then 
how tragical he becomes ! 

Thy aid, divine Apollo, I implore, 

And thine, dread ruler of the wat'ry store! 

Oh ! all ye winds, assist me .' 

He thinks that the whole world ought to apply itself to 
help his love : he excludes Venus alone, as unkind to him. 

Thy aid, O Venus, why should I invoke ? 

He thinks Venus too much employed in her own lust to 
have regard to anything else, as if he himself had not said 
and committed these shameful things from lust. 


XXXV. Now, the cure for one who is affected in this 
manner is to show how light, how contemptible, how 
very trifling he is in what he desires; how he may turn 
his affections to another object, or accomplish his desires 
by some other means; or else to persuade him that he 
may entirely disregard it : sometimes he is to be led away 
to objects of another kind, to study, business, or other 
different engagements and concerns: very often the cure 
is effected by change of place, as sick people, that have 
not recovered their strength, are benefited by change of 
air. Some people think an old love may be driven out 
by a new one, as one nail drives out another : but, above 
all things, the man thus afflicted should be advised what 
madness love is : for of all the perturbations of the mind, 
there is not one which is more vehement; for (without 
charging it with rapes, debaucheries, adultery, or even in 
cest, the baseness of any of these being very blamable; 
not, I say, to mention these) the very perturbation of the 
mind in love is base of itself, for, to pass over all its acts 
of downright madness, what weakness do not those very 
things which are looked upon as indifferent argue ? 

Affronts and jealousies, jars, squabbles, wars, 
Then peace again. The man who seeks to fix 
These restless feelings, and to subjugate 
Them to some regular law, is just as wise 
As one who'd try to lay down rules by which 
Men should go mad. ' 

Now, is not this inconstancy and mutability of mind 
enough to deter any one by its own deformity ? We are 
to demonstrate, as was said of every perturbation, that 
there are no such feelings which do not consist entire 
ly of opinion and judgment, and are not owing to our 
selves. For if love were natural, all would be in love, 
and always so, and all love the same object ; nor would 
one be deterred by shame, another by reflection, another 
by satiety. 

XXXVI. Anger, too, when it disturbs the mind any 
time, leaves no room to doubt its being madness: by the 

1 This passage is from the Eunuch of Terence, act i., sc. 1, 14. 


instigation of which we see such contention as this be 
tween brothers : 

Where was there ever impudence like thine? 
Who on thy malice ever could refine ?' 

You know what follows: for abuses are thrown out by 
these brothers with great bitterness in every other verse ; 
so that you may easily know them for the sons of Atreus, 
of that Atreus who invented a new punishment for his 
brother : 

I who his cruel heart to gall am bent, 
Some new, unheard-of torment must invent. 

Now, what were these inventions? Hear Thyestes: 

My impious brother fain would have me eat 
My children, and thus serves them up for meat. 

To what length now will not anger go ? even as far as 
madness. Therefore we say, properly enough, that angry 
men have given up their power, that is, they are out of 
the power of advice, reason, and understanding ; for these 
ought to have power over the whole mind. Now, you 
should put those out of the way whom they endeavor to 
attack till they have recollected themselves ; but what does 
recollection here imply but getting together again the dis 
persed parts of their mind into their proper place? or else 
you must beg and entreat them, if they have the means 
of revenge, to defer it to another opportunity, till their 
anger cools. But the expi'ession of cooling implies, cer 
tainly, that there was a heat raised in their minds in op 
position to reason ; from which consideration that saying 
of Archytas is commended, who being somewhat provoked 
at his steward, " How would I have treated you," said he, 
" if I had not been in a passion ?" 

XXXVII. Where, then, are they who say that anger 
has its use ? Can madness be of any use ? But still it is 
natural. Can anything be natural that is against reason ? 
or how is it, if anger is natural, that one person is more 
inclined to anger than another? or that the lust of revenge 
should cease before it has revenged itself? or that any one 

1 These verses are from the Atreus of Accius. 


should repent of what he had done in a passion ? as we see 
that Alexander the king did, who could scarcely keep his 
hands from himself, when he had killed his favorite Cly- 
tus, so great was his compunction. Now who that is ac 
quainted with these instances can doubt that this motion 
of the mind is altogether in opinion and voluntary ? for 
who can doubt that disorders of the mind, such as covet- 
ousuess and a desire of glory, arise from a great estima 
tion of those things by which the mind is disordered? 
from whence we may understand that every perturbation 
of the mind is founded in opinion. And if boldness that 
is to say, a firm assurance of mind is a kind of knowledge 
and serious opinion not hastily taken up, then diffidence 
is a fear of an expected and impending evil ; and if hope 
is an expectation of good, fear must, of course, be an ex 
pectation of evil. Thus fear and other perturbations are 
evils. Therefore, as constancy proceeds from knowledge, 
so does perturbation from error. Now, they who are said 
to be naturally inclined to anger, or to pity, or to envy, or 
to any feeling of this kind, their minds are constitutional 
ly, as it were, in bad health ; yet they are curable, as the 
disposition of Socrates is said to have been ; for when Zo- 
pyrus, who professed to know the character of every one 
from his person, had heaped a great many vices on him in 
a public assembly, he was laughed at by others, who could 
perceive no such vices in Socrates ; but Socrates kept him 
in countenance by declaring that such vices were natural 
to him, but that he had got the better of them by his rea 
son. Therefore, as any one who has the appearance of the 
best constitution may yet appear to be naturally rather in 
clined to some particular disorder, so different minds may 
be more particularly inclined to different diseases. But as 
to those men who are said to be vicious, not bv nature, 
but their own fault, their vices proceed from wrong opin 
ions of good and bad things, so that one is more prone than 
another to different motions and perturbations. But, just 
as it is in the case of the body, an inveterate disease is 
harder to be got rid of than a sudden disorder ; and it is 
more easy to cure a fresh tumor in the eyes than to re 
move a defluxion of any continuance. 

XXXVIII. But as the cause of perturbations is now dis- 


covered, for all of them arise from the judgment or opin 
ion, or volition, I shall put an end to this discourse. But 
we ought to be assured, since the boundaries of good and 
evil are now discovered, as far as they are discoverable by 
man, that nothing can be desired of philosophy greater or 
more useful than the discussions which we have held these 
four days. For besides instilling a contempt of death, and 
relieving pain so as to enable men to bear it, we have add 
ed the appeasing of grief, than which there is no greater 
evil to man. For though every perturbation of mind is 
grievous, and differs but little from madness, yet we arc 
used to say of others when they are under any perturba 
tion, as of fear, joy, or desire, that they are agitated and 
disturbed ; but of those who give themselves up to grief, 
that they are miserable, afflicted, wretched, unhappy. So 
that it doth not seem to be by accident, but with reason 
proposed by you, that I should discuss grief, and the other 
perturbations separately ; for there lies the spring and head 
of all our miseries ; but the cure of grief, and of other dis 
orders, is one and the same in that they are all voluntary, 
and founded on opinion ; we take them on ourselves be 
cause it seems right so to do. Philosophy undertakes to 
eradicate this error, as the root of all our evils : let us there 
fore surrender ourselves to be instructed by it, and suffer 
ourselves to be cured ; for while these evils have posses 
sion of us, we not only cannot be happy, but cannot be 
right in our minds. We must either deny that reason can 
effect anything, while, on the other hand, nothing can be 
done right without reason, or else, since philosophy de 
pends on the deductions of reason, we must seek from her, 
if we would be good or happy, every help and assistance 
for living well and happily. 





I. Tins fifth day, Brutus, shall put an end to our Tus- 
culan Disputations : on which day we discussed your fa 
vorite subject. For I perceive from that book which you 
wrote for me with the greatest accuracy, as well as from 
your frequent conversation, that you are clearly of this 
opinion, that virtue is of itself sufficient for a happy life : 
and though it may be difficult to prove this, on account 
of the many various strokes of fortune, yet it is a truth 
of such a nature that we should endeavor to facilitate the 
proof of it. For among all the topics of philosophy, there 
is not one of more dignity or importance. For as the first 
philosophers must have had some inducement to neglect 
everything for the search of the best state of life : surely, 
the inducement must have been the hope of living happi 
ly, which impelled them to devote so much care and pains 
to that study. Now, if virtue was discovered and carried 
to perfection by them, and if virtue is a sufficient securi 
ty for a happy life, who can avoid thinking the work of 
philosophizing excellently recommended by them, and un 
dertaken by nje ? But if virtue, as being subject to such 
various and uncertain accidents, were but the slave of fort 
une, and were not of sufficient ability to support herself, 
I am afraid that it would seem desirable rather to offer up 
prayers, than to rely on our own confidence in virtue as 
the foundation for our hope of a happy life. And, indeed, 
when I reflect on those troubles with which I have been 
so severely exercised by fortune, I begin to distrust this 
opinion ; and sometimes even to dread the weakness and 
frailty of human nature, for I am afraid lest, when nature 
had given us infirm bodies, and had joined to them incur 
able diseases and intolerable pains, she perhaps also gave 
us minds participating in these bodily pains, and harassed 


also with trembles and uneasinesses, peculiarly their own. 
But here I correct myself for forming my judgment of 
the power of virtue more from the weakness of others, or 
of myself perhaps, than from virtue itself : for she herself 
(provided there is such a thing as virtue; and your uncle 
Brutus has removed all doubt of it) has everything that 
can befall mankind in subjection to her ; and by disre 
garding such things, she is far removed from being at all 

O O O 7 O 

concerned at human accidents ; and, being free from ev 
ery imperfection, she thinks that nothing which is exter 
nal to herself can concern her. But we, who increase ev 
ery approaching evil by our fear, and every present one by 
our grief, choose rather to condemn the nature of things 
than our own errors. 

II. But the amendment of this fault, and of all our other 
vices and offences, is to be sought for in philosophy : and 
as my own inclination and desire led me, from my earliest 
youth upward, to seek her protection, so, under my pres 
ent misfortunes, I have had recourse to the same port from 
whence I set out, after having been tossed by a violent 
tempest. O Philosophy, thou guide of life ! thou discov 
erer of virtue and expeller of vices ! what had not only I 
myself, but the whole life of man, been without you ? To 
you it is that we owe the origin of cities ; you it was who 
called together the dispersed race of men into social life ; 
you united them together, first, by placing them near one 
another, then by marriages, and lastly, by the communica 
tion of speech and languages. You have been the inven- 
tress of laws ; you have been our instructress in morals 
and discipline ; to you we fly for refuge; from you we im 
plore assistance; and as I formerly submitted to you in a 
great degree, so now I surrender up myself entirely to you. 
For one day spent well, and agreeably to your precepts, is 
preferable to an eternity of error. Whose assistance, then, 
can be of more service to me than yours, when you have 
bestowed on us tranquillity of life, and removed the fear 
of death ? But Philosophy is so far from being praised 
as much as she has deserved by mankind, that she is whol 
ly neglected by most men, and actually evil spoken of by 
many. Can any person speak ill of the parent of life, and 
dare to pollute himself thus with parricide, and be so im- 


piously ungrateful as to accuse her whom he ought to rev 
erence, even were he less able to appreciate the advantages 
which he might derive from her? But this error, I imag 
ine, and this darkness has spread itself over the minds of 
ignorant men, from their not being able to look so far back, 
and from their not imagining that those men by whom hu 
man life was first improved were philosophers ; for though 
we see philosophy to have been of long standing, yet the 
name must be acknowledged to be but modern. 

III. But, indeed, who can dispute the antiquity of phi 
losophy, either in fact or name ? For it acquired this ex 
cellent name from the ancients, by the knowledge of the 
origin and causes of everything, both divine and human. 
Thus those seven Sttyot, as they were considered and called 
by the Greeks, have always been esteemed and called wise 
men by us ; and thus Lycurgus many ages before, in whose 
time, before the building of this city, Homer is said to 
have lived, as well as Ulysses and Nestor in the heroic 
ages, are all handed down to us by tradition as having re 
ally been what they were called, wise men ; nor would it 
have been said that Atlas supported the heavens, or that 
Prometheus was bound to Caucasus, nor would Cepheus, 
with his wife, his son-in-law, and his daughter have been 
enrolled among the constellations, but that their more than 
human knowledge of the heavenly bodies had transferred 
their names into an erroneous fable. From whence all 
who occupied themselves in the contemplation of nature 
were both considered and called wise men ; and that name 
of theirs continued to the age of Pythagoras, who is re 
ported to have gone to Phlius, as we find it stated by Her- 
aclides Ponticus, a very learned man, and a pupil of Plato, 
and to have discoursed very learnedly and copiously on 
certain subjects with Leon, prince of the Phliasii ; and 
when Leon, admiring his ingenuity and eloquence, asked 
him what art he particularly professed, his answer was, 
that he was acquainted with no art, but that he was a 
philosopher. Leon, surprised at the novelty of the name, 
inquired what he meant by the name of philosopher, and 
in what philosophers differed from other men ; on which 
Pythagoras replied, "That the life of man seemed to him 
to resemble those games which were celebrated with the 


greatest possible variety of sports and the general con 
course of all Greece. For as in those games there were 
some persons whose object was glory and the honor of 
a crown, to be attained by the performance of bodily ex 
ercises, so others were led thither by the gain of buying 
and selling, and mere views of profit; but there was like 
wise one class of persons, and they were by far the best, 
whose aim was neither applause nor profit, but who came 
merely as spectators through curiosity, to observe what 
was done, and to see in what manner things were carried 
on there. And thus, said he, we come from another life 
and nature unto this one, just as men come out of some 
other city, to some much frequented mart; some being 
slaves to glory, others to money ; and there are some few 
who, taking no account of anything else, earnestly look 
into the nature of things; and these men call themselves 
studious of wisdom, that is, philosophers : and as there it 
is the most reputable occupation of all to be a looker-on 
without making any acquisition, so in life, the contemplat 
ing things, and acquainting one's self with them, greatly 
exceeds every other pursuit of life." 

IV. Nor was Pythagoras the inventor only of the name, 
but he enlarged also the thing itself, and, when he came 
into Italy after this conversation at Phlius, he adorned that 
Greece, which is called Great Greece, both privately and 
publicly, with the most excellent institutions and arts; but 
of his school and system I shall, perhaps, find another op 
portunity to speak. But numbers and motions, and the be 
ginning and end of all things, were the subjects cf the an 
cient philosophy down to Socrates, who was a pupil of Ar- 
c.helaus, who had been the disciple of Anaxagoras. These 
made diligent inquiry into the magnitude of the stars, their 
distances, courses, and all that relates to the heavens. But 
Socrates was the first who brought down philosophy from 
the heavens, placed it in cities, introduced it into families, 
and obliged it to examine into life and morals, and good 
and evil. And his different methods of discussing ques 
tions, together with the variety of his topics, and the great 
ness of his abilities, being immortalized by the memory and 
writings of Plato, gave rise to many sects of philosophers 
of different sentiments, of all which I have principally ad- 


hercd to that one which, in my opinion, Socrates himself 
followed ; and argue so as to conceal my own opinion, while 
I deliver others from their errors, and so discover what has 
the greatest appearance of probability in every question. 
And the custom Carneades adopted with great copiousness 
and acuteness, and I myself have often given in to it on 
many occasions elsewhere, and in this manner, too, I dis 
puted lately, in myTusculan villa; indeed,! have sent you 
a book of the four former days' discussions ; but the fifth 
day, when we had seated ourselves as before, what we were 
to dispute on was proposed thus : 

V. A. I do not think virtue can possibly be sufficient 
for a happy life. 

M. But my friend Brutus thinks so, whose judgment, 
with submission, I greatly prefer to yours. 

A. I make no doubt of it ; but your regard for him is 
not the business now : the question is now, what is the real 
character of that quality of which I have declared my opin 
ion. I wish you to dispute on that. 

M. What ! do you deny that virtue can possibly be suf 
ficient for a happy life ? 

A. It is what I entirely deny. 

M. What ! is not virtue sufficient to enable us to live 
as we ought, honestly, commendably, or, in fine, to live 

A. Certainly sufficient. 

M. Can you, then, help calling any one miserable who 
lives ill ? or will you deny that any one who you allow lives 
well must inevitably live happily? 

A. Why may I not? for a man may be upright in his 
life, honest, praiseworthy, even in the midst of torments, 
and therefore live well. Provided you understand what I 
mean by well ; for when I say well, I mean with constan 
cy, and dignity, and wisdom, and courage ; for a man may 
display all these qualities on the rack ; but yet the rack is 
inconsistent with a happy life. 

M. What, then ? is your happy life left on the outside 
of the prison, while constancy, dignity, wisdom, and the 
other virtues, are surrendered up to the executioner, and 
bear punishment and pain without reluctance? 

A. You must look out for something new if you would 


do any good. These things have very little effect on me, 
not merely from their being common, but principally be 
cause, like certain light wines that will not bear water, 
these arguments of the Stoics arc pleasauter to taste than 
to swallow. As when that assemblage of virtues is com 
mitted to the rack, it raises so reverend a spectacle before 
our eyes that happiness seems to hasten on towards them, 
and not to suffer them to be deserted by her. But when 
you take your attention off from this picture and these 
images of the virtues to the truth and the reality, what 
remains without disguise is, the question whether any one 
can be happy in torment? Wherefore let us now examine 
that point, and not be under any apprehensions, lest the 
virtues should expostulate, and complain that they are for 
saken by happiness. For if prudence is connected with 
every virtue, then prudence itself discovers this, that all 
good men are not therefore happy ; and she recollects many 
things of Marcus Atilius, 1 Quintus Ca3pio, 2 Marcus Aquil- 
ius ; 3 and prudence herself, if these representations are 
more agreeable to you than the things themselves, restrains 
happiness when it is endeavoring to throw itself into tor 
ments, and denies that it has any connection with pain and 

VI. M. I can easily bear with your behaving in this 
manner, though it is not fair in you to prescribe to me 
how you would have me carry on this discussion. But I 
ask you if I have effected anything or nothing in the pre 
ceding days ? 

A. Yes ; something was done, some little matter indeed. 

M. But if that is the case, this question is settled, and 
almost put an end to. 

A. How so ? 

M. Because turbulent motions and violent agitations of 

1 This was Marcus Atilius Regains, the story of whose treatment by 
the Carthaginians in the first Punic War is well known to everybody. 

2 This was Quintus Servilius Caspio, who, 105 B.C., was destroyed, 
with his army, by the Cimbri, it was believed as a judgment for the cov- 
etousness which he had displayed in the plunder of Tolosa. 

8 This was Marcus Aquilius, who, in the year 88 B. c., was sent against 
Mithridates as one of the consular legates ; and, being defeated, was de 
livered up to the king by the inhabitants of Mitylene. Mithridates put 
him to death by pouring molten gold down his throat. 


the mind, when it is raised and elated by a rash impulse, 
getting the better of reason, leave no room for a happy 
life. For who that fears either pain or death, the one of 
which is always present, the other always impending, can 
be otherwise than miserable? Now, supposing the same 
person which is often the case to be afraid of pover 
ty, ignominy, infamy, or weakness, or blindness, or, lastly, 
slavery, which doth not only befall individual men, but 
often even the most powerful nations ; now can any one 
under the apprehension of these evils be happy? What 
shall we say of him who not only dreads these evils as 
impending, but actually feels and bears them at present ? 
Let us unite in the same person banishment, mourning, 
the loss of children ; now, how can any one who is broken 
down and rendered sick in body and mind by such af 
fliction be otherwise than very miserable indeed ? What 
reason, again, can there be why a man should not rightly 
enough be called miserable whom we see inflamed and 
raging with lust, coveting everything with an insatiable 
desire, and, in proportion as he derives more pleasure from 
anything, thirsting the more violently after them? And as 
to a man vainly elated, exulting with an empty joy, and 
boasting of himself without reason, is not he so much the 
more miserable in proportion as he thinks himself happier ? 
Therefore, as these men are miserable, so, on the other 
hand, those are happy who are alarmed by no fears, wasted 
by no griefs, provoked by no lusts, melted by no languid 
pleasures that arise from vain and exulting joys. We 
look on the sea as calm when not the least breath of air 
disturbs its waves ; and, in like manner, the placid and 
quiet state of the mind is discovered when unmoved by 
any perturbation. Now, if there be any one who holds 
the power of fortune, and everything human, everything 
that can possibly befall any man, as supportable, so as to 
be out of the reach of fear or anxiety, and if such a man 
covets nothing, and is lifted up by no vain joy of mind, 
what can prevent his being happy? And if these are 
the effects of virtue, why cannot virtue itself make men 
happy ? 

VII. A. But the other of these two propositions is unde 
niable, that they who are under no apprehensions, who are 


noways uneasy, who covet nothing, who are lifted up by 
no vain joy, are happy : and therefore I grant you that. 
But as for the other, that is not now in a tit state for dis 
cussion ; for it has been proved by your former arguments 
that a wise man is free from every perturbation of mind. 

M, Doubtless, then, the dispute is over ; for the question 
appears to have been entirely exhausted. 

A. I think, indeed, that that is almost the case. 

M. But yet that is more usually the case with the mathe 
maticians than philosophers. For when the geometricians 
teach anything, if what they have before taught relates to 
their present subject, they take that for granted which has 
been already proved, and explain only what they had not 
written on before. But the philosophers, whatever subject 
they have in hand, get together everything that relates 
to it, notwithstanding they may have dilated on it some 
where else. Were not that the case, why should the 
Stoics say so much on that question, Whether virtue was 
abundantly sufficient to a happy life ? when it would have 
been answer enough that they had before taught that 
nothing was good but what was honorable ; for, as this 
had been proved, the consequence must be that virtue was 
sufficient to a happy life; and each premise may be made 
to follow from the admission of the other, so that if it be 
admitted that virtue is sufficient to secure a happy life, it 
may also be inferred that nothing is good except what is 
honorable. They, however, do not proceed in this manner ; 
for they would separate books about what is honorable, 
and what is the chief good ; and when they have demon 
strated from the one that virtue has power enough to 
make life happy, yet they treat this point separately ; for 
everything, and especially a subject of such great conse 
quence, should be supported by arguments and exhorta 
tions which belong to that alone. For you should have 
a care how you imagine philosophy to have uttered any 
thing more noble, or that she has promised anything more 
fruitful or of greater consequence, for, good Gods ! doth 
she not engage that she will render him who submits to 
her laws so accomplished as to be always armed against 
fortune, and to have every assurance within himself of 
living well and happily that he shall, in short, be forever 


happy? But let us see what she will perform? In the 
mean while, I look upon it as a great thing that she has 
even made such a promise. For Xerxes, who was loaded 
with all the rewards and gifts of fortune, not satisfied with 
his armies of horse and foot, nor the multitude of his 
ships, nor his infinite treasure of gold, offered a reward to 
any one who could find out a new pleasure ; and yet, when 
it was discovered, he was not satisfied with it ; nor can 
there ever be an end to lust. I wish we could engage 
any one by a reward to produce something the better to 
establish us in this belief. 

VIII. A. I wish that, indeed, myself ; but I want a lit 
tle information. For I allow that in what you have stated 
the one proposition is the consequence of the other ; that 
as, if what is honorable be the only good, it must follow 
that a happy life is the effect of virtue: so that if a hap 
py life consists in virtue, nothing can be good but virtue. 
But your friend Brutus, on the authority of Aristo and 
Antiochus, does not see this ; for he thinks the case would 
be the same even if there were anything good besides 

M. What, then? do you imagine that I am going to 
argue against Brutus ? 

A. You may do what you please; for it is not for me 
to prescribe what you shall do. 

M. How these things agree together shall be examined 
somewhere else; for I frequently discussed that point 
with Antiochus, and lately with Aristo, when, during the 
period of my command as general, I was lodging with 
him at Athens. For to me it seemed that no one could 
possibly be happy under any evil ; but a wise man might 
be afflicted with evil, if there are any things arising from 
body or fortune deserving the name of evils. These things 
were said, which Antiochus has inserted in his books in 
many places that virtue itself was sufficient to make life 
happy, but yet not perfectly happy ; and that many things 
derive their names from the predominant portion of them, 
though they do not include everything, as strength, health, 
riches, honor, and glory : which qualities are determined 
by their kind, not their number. Thus a happy life is so 
called from its being so in a great degree, even though it 


should fall short in some point. To clear this up is not 
absolutely necessary at present, though it seems to be 
said without any great consistency ; for I cannot imagine 
what is wanting to one that is happy to make him happier, 
for if anything be wanting to him, he cannot be so much as 
happy; and as to what they say, that everything is named 
and estimated from its predominant portion, that may be 
admitted in some things. But when they allow three 
kinds of evils when any one is oppressed with every im 
aginable evil of two kinds, being afflicted with adverse 
fortune, and having at the same time his body worn out 
and harassed with all sorts of pains shall we say that 
such a one is but little short of a happy life, to say noth 
ing about the happiest possible life ? 

IX. This is the point which Theophrastus was unable 
to maintain ; for after he had once laid down the position 
that stripes, torments, tortures, the ruin of one's country, 
banishment, the loss of children, had great influence on 
men's living miserably and unhappily, he durst not any 
longer use any high and lofty expressions when he was so 
low and abject in his opinion. How right he was is not 
the question ; he certainly was consistent. Therefore, I 
am not for objecting to consequences where the premises 
are admitted. But this most elegant and learned of all 
the philosophers is not taken to task very severely when 
he asserts his three kinds of good ; but he is attacked by 
every one for that book which he wrote on a happy life, 
in which book he has many arguments why one who is 
tortured and racked cannot be happy. For in that book 
he is supposed to say that a man who is placed on the 
wheel (that is a kind of torture in use among the Greeks) 
cannot attain to a completely happy life. He nowhere, in 
deed, says so absolutely ; but what he says amounts to the 
same thing. Can I, then, find fault with him, after having 
allowed that pains of the body are evils, that the ruin of a 
man's fortunes is an evil, if he should say that every good 
man is not happy, when all those things which he reckons 
as evils may befall a good man ? The same Theophrastus is 
found fault with by all the books and schools of the philos 
ophers for commending that sentence in his Callisthenes, 

Fortune, not wisdom, rules the life of man. 


They say never did philosopher assert anything so lan 
guid. They are right, indeed, in that; but I do not ap 
prehend anything could be more consistent, for if there 
are so many good things that depend on the body, and 
so many foreign to it that depend on chance and fortune, 
is it inconsistent to say that fortune, which governs every 
thing, both what is foreign and what belongs to the body, 
lias greater power than counsel. Or would we rather im 
itate Epicurus ? who is often excellent in many things 
which he speaks, but quite indifferent how consistent he 
may be, or how much to the purpose he is speaking. He 
commends spare diet, and in that he speaks as a philoso 
pher ; but it is for Socrates or Antistheues to say so, and 
not for one who confines all good to pleasure. He denies 
that any one can live pleasantly unless he lives honestly, 
wisely, and justly. Nothing is more dignified than this 
assertion, nothing more becoming a philosopher, had he 
not measured this very expression of living honestly, just 
ly, and wisely by pleasure. What could be better than 
to assert that fortune interferes but little with a wise 
man ? But does he talk thus, who, after he has said that 
pain is the greatest evil, or the only evil, might himself 
be afflicted with the sharpest pains all over his body, even 
at the time he is vaunting himself the most against fort 
une? And this very thing, too, Metrodorus has said, but 
in better language: "I have anticipated you, Fortune; I 
have caught you, and cut off every access, so that you 
cannot possibly reach me." This would be excellent in 
the mouth of Aristo the Chian, or Zeno the Stoic, who 
held nothing to be an evil but what was base; but for 
you, Metrodorus, to anticipate the approaches of fortune, 
Avho confine all that is good to your bowels and mar 
row for you to say so, who define the chief good by a 
strong constitution of body, and well-assured hope of its 
continuance for you to cut off every access of fortune ! 
Why, you may instantly be deprived of that good. Yet 
the simple are taken with these propositions, and a vast 
crowd is led away by such sentences to become their fol 

X. But it is the duty of one who would argue accu 
rately to consider not what is said, but what is said con- 


sistcntly. As in that very opinion which we have adopted 
in this discussion, namely, that every good man is always 
happy, it is clear what I mean by good men : I call those 
both wise and good men who are provided and adorned 
with every virtue. Let us see, then, who are to be called 
happy. I imagine, indeed, that those men are to be call 
ed so who are possessed of good without any alloy of 
evil; nor is there any other notion connected with the 
word that expresses happiness but an absolute enjoyment 
of good without any evil. Virtue cannot attain this, if 
there is anything good besides itself. For a crowd of 
evils would present themselves, if we were to allow pov 
erty, obscurity, humility, solitude, the loss of friends, 
acute pains of the body, the loss of health, weakness, 
blindness, the ruin of one's country, banishment, slavery, 
to be evils; for a wise man may be afflicted by all these 
evils, numerous and important as they are, and many 
others also may be added, for they are brought on by 
chance, which may attack a wise man ; but if these things 
are evils, who can maintain that a wise man is always 
happy when all these evils may light on him at the same 
time? I therefore do not easily agree with my friend 
Brutus, nor with our common masters, nor those ancient 
ones, Aristotle, Speusippus, Xenocrates, Polemon, who 
reckon all that I have mentioned above as evils, and yet 
they say that a wise man is always happy; nor can I al 
low them, because they are charmed with this beautiful 
and illustrious title, which would very well become Py 
thagoras, Socrates, and Plato, to persuade my mind that 
strength, health, beauty, riches, honors, power, with the 
beauty of which they are ravished, are contemptible, and 
that all those things which are the opposites of these are 
not to be regarded. Then might they declare openly, 
with a loud voice,- that neither the attacks of fortune, nor 
the opinion of the multitude, nor pain, nor poverty, occa 
sions them any apprehensions ; and that they have every 
thing within themselves, and that there is nothing what 
ever which they consider as good but what is within their 
own power. Nor can I by any means allow the same per 
son who falls into the vulgar opinion of good and evil 
to make use of these expressions, which can only become 


a great and exalted man. Struck with which glory, up 
starts Epicurus, who, with submission to the Gods, thinks 
a wise man always happy. He is much charmed with the 
dignity of this opinion, but he never would have owned 
that, had he attended to himself ; for what is there more 
inconsistent than for one who could say that pain was 
the greatest or the only evil to think also that a wise man 
can possibly say in the midst of his torture, How sweet 
is this ! We are not, therefore, to form our judgment 
of philosophers from detached sentences, but from their 
consistency with themselves, and their ordinary manner of 

XL A. You compel me to be of your opinion ; but have 
a care that you are not inconsistent yourself. 

M. In what respect ? 

A. Because I have lately read your fourth book on 
Good and Evil: and in that you appeared to me, while 
disputing against Cato, to be endeavoring to show, which 
in my opinion means to prove, that Zeno and the Peripa 
tetics differ only about some new words; but if we allow 
that, what reason can there be, if it follows from the argu 
ments of Zeno that virtue contains all that is necessary to 
a happy life, that the Peripatetics should not be at liberty 
to say the same? For, in my opinion, regard should be 
had to the thing, not to words. 

M. What ! you would convict me from my own words, 
and bring against me what I had said or written else 
where. You may act in that manner with those who dis 
pute by established rules. We live from hand to mouth, 
and say anything that strikes our mind with probability, 
so that we are the only people who are really at liberty. 
But, since I just now spoke of consistency, I do not think 
the inquiry in this place is, if the opinion of Zeno and his 
pupil Aristo be true that nothing is good but what is hon 
orable ; but, admitting that, then, whether the whole of a 
happy life can be rested on virtue alone. Wherefore, if 
we certainly grant Brutus this, that a wise man is always 
happy, how consistent he is, is his own business; for who, 
indeed, is more worthy than himself of the glory of that 
opinion? Still, we may maintain that such a man is more 
happy than any one else. 


XII. Though Zcno the Cittiaean, a stranger and an incon 
siderable coiner of words, appears to have insinuated him 
self into the old philosophy ; still, the prevalence of this 
opinion is due to the authority of Plato, who often makes 
use of this expression, " That nothing but virtue can be 
entitled to the name of good," agreeably to what Socrates 
says in Plato's Gorgias ; for it is there related that when 
some one asked him if he did not think Archelaus the son 
of Perdiccas, who was then looked upon as a most fortu 
nate person, a very happy man, " I do not know," replied 
he, "for I never conversed with him." "What! is there 
no other way you can know it by?" "None at all." 
" You cannot, then, pronounce of the great king of the 
Persians whether he is happy or not?" "How can I, 
when I do not know how learned or how good a man he 
is ?" " What ! do you imagine that a happy life depends 
on that?" "My opinion entirely is, that good men are 
happy, and the wicked miserable." " Is Archelaus, then, 
miserable?" " Cei'tainly, if unjust." Now, does it not 
appear to you that he is here placing the whole of a hap 
py life in virtue alone ? But what does the same man say 
in his funeral oration ? " For," saith he, " whoever has 
everything that relates to a happy life so entirely depend 
ent on himself as not to be connected with the good or 
bad fortune of another, and not to be affected by, or made 
in any degree uncertain by, what befalls another; and 
whoever is such a one has acquired the best rule of living ; 
he is that moderate, that brave, that wise man, who sub 
mits to the gain and loss of everything, and especially of 
his children, and obeys that old precept; for he will never 
be too joyful or too sad, because he depends entirely upon 

XIII. From Plato, therefore, all my discourse shall be 
deduced, as if from some sacred and hallowed fountain. 
Whence can I, then, more properly begin than from Nat 
ure, the parent of all ? For whatsoever she produces (I 
am not speaking only of animals, but even of those things 
which have sprung from the earth in such a manner as to 
rest on their own roots) she designed it to be perfect in 
its respective kind. So that among trees and vines, and 
those lower plants and trees which cannot advance them- 


selves high above the earth, some are evergreen, others 
are stripped of their leaves in winter, and, warmed by the 
spring season, put them out afresh, and there are none of 
them but what are so quickened by a certain interior mo 
tion, and their own seeds enclosed in every one, so as to 
yield flowers, fruit, or berries, that all may have every per 
fection that belongs to it; provided no violence pi-events 
it. But the force of Nature itself may be more easily dis 
covered in animals, as she has bestowed sense on them. 
For someaaniruals she has taught to swim, and designed 
to be inhabitants of the water; others she has enabled to 
fly, and has willed that they should enjoy the boundless 
air ; some others she has made to creep, others to walk. 
Again, of these very animals, some are solitary, some gre 
garious, some wild, others tame, some hidden and buried 
beneath the earth, and every one of these maintains the law 
of nature, confining itself to what was bestowed on it, and 
unable to change its manner of life. And as every ani 
mal has from nature something that distinguishes it, which 
every one maintains and never quits ; so man has some 
thing far more excellent, though everything is said to be 
excellent by comparison. But the human mind, being de 
rived from the divine reason, can be compared with noth 
ing but with the Deity itself, if I may be allowed the ex 
pression. This, then, if it is improved, and when its per 
ception is so preserved as not to be blinded by errors, be 
comes a perfect understanding, that is to say, absolute rea 
son, which is the very same as virtue. And if everything 
is happy which wants nothing, and is complete and perfect 
in its kind, and that is the peculiar lot of virtue, certainly 
all who are possessed of virtue are happy. And in this 
I agree with Brutus, and also with Aristotle, Xenocrates, 
Speusippus, Polernon. 

XIV. To me such are the only men who appear com 
pletely happy ; for what can he want to a complete happy 
life who relies on his own good qualities, or how can he be 
happy who does not rely on them? But he who makes a 
threefold division of goods must necessarily be diffident, 
for how can he depend on having a sound body, or that 
his fortune shall continue? But no one can be happy with 
out an immovable, fixed, and permanent good. What, 



then, is this opinion of theirs? So that I think that say 
ing of the Spartan may be applied to them, who, on some 
merchant's boasting before him that he had despatched 
ships to every maritime coast, replied that a fortune which 
depended on ropes was not very desirable. Can there be 
any doubt that whatever may be lost cannot be properly 
classed in the number of those things which complete a 
happy life ? for of all that constitutes a happy life, noth 
ing will admit of withering, or growing old, or wearing 
out, or decaying ; for whoever is apprehensive of any loss 
of these things cannot be happy : the happy man should 
be safe, well fenced, well fortified, out of the reach of all 
annoyance, not like a man under trifling apprehensions, 
but free from all such. As he is not called innocent who 
but slightly offends, but he who offends not at all, so it is 
he alone who is to be considered without fear who is free 
from all fear, not he who is but in little fear. For what 
else is courage but an affection of mind that is ready to 
undergo perils, and patient in the endurance of pain and 
labor without any alloy of fear ? Now, this certainly could 
not be the case if there were anything else good but what 
depended on honesty alone. But how can any one be in 
possession of that desirable and much-coveted security (for 
I now call a freedom from anxiety a security, on which 
freedom a happy life depends) who has, or may have, a 
multitude of evils attending him ? How can he be brave 
and undaunted, and hold everything as trifles which can 
befall a man? for so a wise man should do, unless he be one 
who thinks that everything depends on himself. Could 
the Lacedaemonians without this, when Philip threatened 
to prevent all their attempts, have asked him if he could 
prevent their killing themselves ? Is it not easier, then, 
to find one man of such a spirit as we are inquiring after, 
than to meet with a whole city of such men ? Now, if to 
this courage I am speaking of we add temperance, that it 
may govern all our feelings and agitations, what can be 
wanting to complete his happiness who is secured by his 
courage from uneasiness and fear, and is prevented from 
immoderate desires and immoderate insolence of joy by 
temperance? I could easily show that virtue is able to 


produce these effects, but that I have explained on the 
foregoing days. 

XV. But as the perturbations of the mind make life 
miserable, and tranquillity renders it happy ; and as these 
perturbations are of two sorts, grief and fear, proceeding 
from imagined evils, and as immoderate joy and lust arise 
from a mistake about what is good, and as all these feel 
ings are in opposition to reason and counsel; when you 
see a man at ease, quite free and disengaged from such 
troublesome commotions, which are so much at variance 
with one another, can you hesitate to pronounce such a 
one a happy man? Now, the wise man is always in such 
a disposition ; therefore the wise man is always happy. 
Besides, every good is pleasant ; whatever is pleasant may 
be boasted and talked of ; whatever may be boasted of is 
glorious ; but whatever is glorious is certainly laudable, 
and whatever is laudable doubtless, also, honorable : what 
ever, then, is good is honorable (but the things which 
they reckon as goods they themselves do not call honor 
able) ; therefore what is honorable alone is good. Hence 
it follows that a happy life is comprised in honesty alone. 
Such things, then, are not to be called or considered goods, 
when a man may enjoy an abundance of them, and yet be 
most miserable. Is there .any doubt but that a man who 
enjoys the best health, and who has strength and beauty, 
and his senses flourishing in their utmost quickness and 
perfection suppose him likewise, if you please, nimble and 
active, nay, give him riches, honors, authority, power, glo 
ry now, I say, should this person, who is in possession of 
all these, be unjust, intemperate, timid, stupid, or an idiot 
could you hesitate to call such a one miserable? What, 
then, are those goods in the possession of which you may 
be very miserable ? Let us see if a happy life is not made 
up of parts of the same nature, as a heap implies a quan 
tity of grain of the same kind. And if this be once ad 
mitted, happiness must be compounded of different good 
things, which alone are honorable ; if there is any mixture 
of things of another sort with these, nothing honorable can 
proceed from such a composition : now, take away hones 
ty, and how can you imagine anything happy ? For what 
ever is good is desirable on that account; whatever is de- 


sirable must certainly be approved of; whatever you ap 
prove of must be looked on as acceptable and welcome. 
You must consequently impute dignity to this ; and if so, 
it must necessarily be laudable : therefore, everything that 
is laudable is good. Hence it follows that what is honor 
able is the only good. And should we not look upon it 
in this light, there will be a great many things which we 
must call good. 

XVI. I forbear to mention riches, which, as any one, let 
him be ever so unworthy, may have them, I do not reckon 
among goods ; for what is good is not attainable by all. I 
pass over notoriety and popular fame, raised by the united 
voice of knaves and fools. Even things which are abso 
lute nothings may be called goods; such as white teeth, 
handsome eyes, a good complexion, and what was com 
mended by Euryclea, when she was washing Ulysses's feet, 
the softness of his skin and the mildness of his discourse. 
If you look on these as goods, what greater encomiums can 
the gravity of a philosopher be entitled to than the wild 
opinion of the vulgar and the thoughtless crowd? The 
Stoics give the name of excellent and choice to what the 
others call good : they call them so, indeed ; but they do 
not allow them to complete a happy life. But these oth 
ers think that there is no life happy without them ; or, ad 
mitting it to be happy, they deny it to be the most happy. 
But our opinion is, that it is the most happy; and we prove 
it from that conclusion of Socrates. For thus that author 
of philosophy argued : that as the disposition of a man's 
mind is, so is the man ; such as the man is, such will be 
his discourse; his actions will correspond with his dis 
course, and his life with his actions. But the disposition 
of a good man's mind is laudable ; the life, therefore, of a 
good man is laudable ; it is honorable, therefore, because 
laudable ; the unavoidable conclusion from which is that 
the life of good men is happy. For, good Gods ! did I 
not make it appear, by my former arguments or was I 
only amusing myself and killing time in what I then said ? 
that the mind of a wise man was always free from every 
hasty motion which I call a pertui-bation, and that the most 
undisturbed peace always reigned in his breast? A man, 
then, who is temperate and consistent, free from fear or 


grief, and uninfluenced by any immoderate joy or desire, 
cannot be otherwise than happy ; but a wise man is always 
so, therefore he is always happy. Moreover, how can a 
good man avoid referring all his actions and all his feel 
ings to the one standard of whether or not it is laudable ? 
But he does refer everything to the object of living hap 
pily : it follows, then, that a happy life is laudable ; but 
nothing is laudable without virtue : a happy life, then, is 
the consequence of virtue. And this is the unavoidable 
conclusion to be drawn from these arguments. 

XVII. A wicked life has nothing which we ought to 
speak of or glory in ; nor has that life which is neither 
happy nor miserable. But there is a kind of life that ad 
mits of being spoken of, and gloried in, and boasted of, as 
Epaminondas saith, 

The wings ot Sparta's pride my counsels clipp'd. 
And Africanus boasts, 

Who, from beyond Mteotis to the place 
Where the sun rises, deeds like mine can trace ? 

If, then, there is such a thing as a happy life, it is to be 
gloried in, spoken of, and commended by the person who 
enjoys it; for there is nothing excepting that which cnn 
be spoken of or gloried in ; and when that is once admit 
ted, you know what follows. Now, unless an honorable 
life is a happy life, there must, of course, be something 
preferable to a happy life ; for that which is honorable all 
men will certainly grant to be preferable to anything else. 
And thus there will be something better than a happy life : 
but what can be more absurd than such an assertion ? 
What ! when they grant vice to be effectual to the render 
ing life miserable, must they not admit that there is a cor 
responding power in virtue to make life happy ? For con 
traries follow from contraries. And here* I ask what 
weight they think there is in the balance of Critolaus, who 
having put the goods of the mind into one scale, and the 
goods of the body and other external advantages into the 
other, thought the goods of the mind outweighed the oth 
ers so far that they would require the whole earth and sea 
to equalize the scale. 


XVIII. What hinders Critolaus, then, or that gravest 
of philosophers, Xenocrates (who raises virtue so high, and 
who lessens and depreciates everything else), from not 
only placing a happy life, but the happiest possible life, 
in virtue? And, indeed, if this were not the case, virtue 
would be absolutely lost. For whoever is subject to grief 
must necessarily be subject to fear too, for fear is an un 
easy apprehension of future grief ; and whoever is subject 
to fear is liable to dread, timidity, consternation, coward 
ice. Therefore, such a person may, some time or other, be 
defeated, and not think himself concerned with that pre 
cept of Atreus, 

And let men so conduct themselves in life, 
As to be always strangers to defeat. 

But such a man, as I have said, will be defeated ; and not 
only defeated, but made a slave of. But we would have 
virtue always free, always invincible ; and were it not so, 
there would be an end of virtue. But if virtue has in her 
self all that is necessary for a good life, she is certainly 
sufficient for happiness : virtue is certainly sufficient, too, 
for our living with courage ; if with courage, then with a 
magnanimous spirit, and indeed so as never to be under 
any fear, and thus to be always invincible. Hence it fol 
lows that there can be nothing to be repented of, noAvants, 
no lets or hinderances. Thus all things will be prosper 
ous, perfect, and as you would have them, and, consequent 
ly, happy ; but virtue is sufficient for living with courage, 
and therefore virtue is able by herself to make life happy. 
For as folly, even when possessed of what it desires, never 
thinks it has acquired enough, so wisdom is always satisfied 
with the present, and never repents on her own account. 

XIX. Look but on the single consulship of Lselins, and 
that, too, after having been set aside (though when a wise 
and good man like him is outvoted, the people are disap 
pointed of a good consul, rather than he disappointed by 
a vain people) ; but the point is, would you prefer, were it 
in your power, to be once such a consul as Lrelius, or be 
elected four times, like Cinna? I have no doubt in the 
world what answer you will make, and it is on that account 
I put the question to you. 


I would not ask every one this question ; for some one 
perhaps might answer that he would not only prefer four 
consulates to one, but even one day of China's life to whole 
ages of many famous men. Lselius would have suffered 
had he but touched any one with his finger; but Cinna 
ordered the head of his colleague consul, Cn. Octavius, to 
be struck off ; and put to death P. Crassus, 1 and L. Cae 
sar, 8 those excellent men, so renowned both at home and 
abroad ; and even M. Antonius, 3 the greatest orator whom 
I ever heard ; and C. Ca3sar, who seems to me to have been 
the pattern of humanity, politeness, sweetness of temper, 
and wit. Could he, then, be happy who occasioned the 
death of these men ? So far from it, that he seems to be 
miserable, not only for having performed these actions, but 
also for acting in such a manner that it was lawful for him 
to do it, though it is unlawful for any one to do wicked 
actions; but this proceeds from inaccuracy of speech, for 
we call whatever a man is allowed to do lawful. Was not 
Harms happier, I pray you, when he shared the glory of 
the victory gained over the Cimbrians with his colleague 
Catulus (who was almost another Lrelius ; for I look upon 
the two men as very like one another), than when, conquer 
or in the civil war, he in a passion answered the friends 
of Catulus, who were interceding for him, " Let him die ?" 
And this answer he gave, not once only, but often. But 
in such a case, he was happier who submitted to that bar 
barous decree than he who issued it. And it is better to 
receive an injury than to do one; and so it was better to 
advance a little to meet that death that was making its 
approaches, as Catulus did, than, like Harms, to sully the 
glory of six consulships, and disgrace his latter days, by 
the death of such a man. 

f"!XX. Dionysius exercised his tyranny over the Syracu- 
sans thirty -eight years, being but twenty -five years old 

1 This was the elder brother of the triumvir Marcus Crnssus, 87 B.C. 
He was put to death by Fimbria, who was iu command of some of the 
troops of Marius. 

2 Lucius Caesar and Caius Caesar were relations (it is uncertain in 
what degree) of the great Caesar, and were killed by Fimbria on the same 
occasion as Octavius. 

3 M. Antonius was the grandfather of the triumvir ; he was murdered 
the same year, 87 B.C., by Annitis, when Marius and Cinna took Kome. 


when he seized on the government. How beautiful and 
how wealthy a city did he oppress with slavery ! And yet 
we have it from good authority that he was remarkably 
temperate in his manner of living, that he was very active 
and energetic in carrying on business, but naturally mis 
chievous and unjust; from which description every one 
who diligently inquires into truth must inevitably see that 
he was very miserable. Neither did he attain what he so 
greatly desired, even when he was persuaded that he had 
unlimited power; for, notwithstanding he was of a good 
family and reputable parents (though that is contested by 
some authors), and had a very large acquaintance of inti 
mate friends and relations, and also some youths attached 
to him by ties of love after the fashion of the Greeks, he 
could not trust any one of them, but committed the guard 
of his person to slaves, whom he had selected from rich 
men's families and made free, and to strangers and barba 
rians. And thus, through an unjust desire of governing, 
he in a manner shut himself up in a prison. Besides, he 
would not trust his throat to a barber, but had his daugh 
ters taught to shave; so that these royal virgins were 
forced to descend to the base and slavish employment of 
shaving the head and beard of their father. Nor would 
he trust even then?, when they were grown up, with a razor; 
but contrived how they might burn off the hair of his head 
and beard with red-hot nutshells./ And as to his two wives, 
Aristomache, his countrywoman, and Doris of Locris, he 
never visited them at night before everything had been 
well searched and examined. And as he had surrounded 
the place where his bed was with a broad ditch, and made 
a way over it with a wooden bridge, he drew that bridge 
over after shutting his bedchamber door. And as he did 
not dare to stand on the ordinary pulpits from which they 
usually harangued the people, he generally addressed them 
from a high tower. And it is said that when he was dis 
posed to play at ball for he delighted much in it and 
had pulled off his clothes, he used to give his sword into 
the keeping of a young man whom he was very fond of. 
On this, one of his intimates said pleasantly, " You certain 
ly trust your life with him ;" and as the young man hap 
pened to smile at this, he ordered them both to be slain, 


the one for showing how he might be taken off, the other 
for approving of what had been said by smiling. But he 
was so concerned at what he had done that nothing affect 
ed him more during his whole life; for he had slain one 
to whom he was extremely partial. Thus do weak men's 
desires pull them different ways, and while they indulge 
one, they act counter to another. 

XXI. This tyrant, however, showed himself how happy 
he really was ; for once, when Damocles, one of his flatter 
ers, was dilating in conversation on his forces, his wealth, 
the greatness of his power, the plenty he enjoyqd, the 
grandeur of his royal palaces, and maintaining that no 
one was ever happier, "Have you an inclination," said he, 
" Damocles, as this kind of life pleases you, to have a taste 
of it yourself, and to make a trial of the good fortune that 
attends me?" And when he said that he should like it 
extremely, Dionysius ordered him to be laid on a bed of 
gold with the most beautiful covering, embroidered and 
wrought with the most exquisite work, and he dressed out 
a great many sideboards with silver and embossed gold. 
He then ordered some youths, distinguished for their hand 
some persons, to wait at his table, and to observe his nod, 
in order to serve him with what he wanted. There were 
ointments and garlands ; perfumes were burned ; tables pro 
vided with the most exquisite meats. Damocles thought 
himself very happy. In the midst of this apparatus, Dio 
nysius ordered a bright sword to be let down from the 
ceiling, suspended by a single horse -hair, so as to hang 
over the head of that happy man. After which he neither 
cast his eye on those handsome waiters, nor on the well- 
wrought plate ; nor touched any of the provisions : pres 
ently the garlands fell to pieces. At last he entreated the 
tyrant to give him leave to go, for that now he had no de 
sire to be happy. 1 Does not Dionysius, then, seem to have 
declared there can be no happiness for one who is under 
constant apprehensions ? But it was not now in his pow- 

1 This story is alluded to by Horace : 

Districtns ensis cni snper impift 
Cervice pendet non Siculse dapes 
Dulcem elaborabnnt saporem, 

Non avium cithansve cantus 
Somnnm reducent. iii. 1. 17. 


er to return to justice, and restore his citizens their rights 
and privileges ; for, by the indiscretion of youth, he had 
engaged in so many wrong steps and committed such ex 
travagances, that, had he attempted to have returned to 
a right way of thinking, he must have endangered his 

XXII. Yet, how desirous he was of friendship, though 
at the same time he dreaded the treachery of friends, ap 
pears from the story of those two Pythagoreans : one of 
these had been security for his friend, who was condemned 
to die; the other, to release his security, presented himself 
at the time appointed for his dying : " I wish," said Dio- 
nysius, " you would admit me as the third in your friend 
ship." What misery was it for him to be deprived of ac 
quaintance, of company at his table, and of the freedom of 
conversation ! especially for one who was a man of learn 
ing, and from his childhood acquainted with liberal arts, 
very fond of music, and himself a tragic poet how good 
a one is not to the purpose, for I know not how it is, but 
in this way, more than any other, every one thinks his own 
performances excellent. I never as yet knew any poet 
(and I was very intimate with Aquinius), who did not ap 
pear to himself to be very admirable. The case is this : 
you are pleased with your own works ; I like mine. But 
to return to Dionysius. He debarred himself all civ 
il and polite conversation, and spent his life among fugi 
tives, bondmen, and barbarians; for he was persuaded that 
no one could be his friend who was worthy of liberty, or 
had the least desire of being free. 

XXIII. Shall I not, then, prefer the life of Plato and 
Archytas, manifestly wise and learned men, to his, than 
which nothing can possibly be more horrid, or miserable, 
or detestable ? 

I will present you with an humble and obscure mathe 
matician of the same city, called Archimedes, who lived 
many years after; whose tomb, overgrown with shrubs 
and briers, I in my quaestorship discovered, when the Syr- 
acusans knew nothing of it, and even denied that there 
was any such thing remaining; for I remembered some 
verses, which I had been informed were engraved on his 
monument, and these set forth that on the top of the tomb 


there was placed a sphere with a cylinder. When I had 
carefully examined all the monuments (for there are a 
great many tombs at the gate Achvadinae), I observed a 
small column standing out a little above the briers, with 
the figure of a sphere and a cylinder upon it ; whereupon 
I immediately said to the Syracusans for there were 
some of their principal men with me there that I im 
agined that was what I was inquiring for. Several men, 
being sent in with scythes, cleared the way, and made an 
opening for us. When we could get at it, and were come 
near to the front of the, pedestal, I found the inscription, 
though the latter parts of all the verses were effaced al 
most half away. Thus one of the noblest cities of Greece, 
and one which at one time likewise had been very cele 
brated for learning, had known nothing of the monument 
of its greatest genius, if it had not been discovered to them 
by a native of Arpinum. But to return to the subject 
from which I have been digressing. Who is there in the 
least degree acquainted with the Muses, that is, with lib 
eral knowledge, or that deals at all in learning, who would 
not choose to be this mathematician rather than that ty 
rant? If we look into their methods of living and their 
employments, we shall find the mind of the one strength 
ened and improved with tracing the deductions of reason, 
amused with his own ingenuity, which is the one most 
delicious food of the mind ; the thoughts of the other en 
gaged in continual murders and injuries, in constant fears 
by night and by day. Now imagine a Democritus, a Py 
thagoras, and an Anaxagoras ; what kingdom, what riches, 
would you prefer to their studies and amusements ? For 
you must necessarily look for that excellence which we arc 
seeking for in that which is the most perfect part of man ; 
but what is there better in man than a sagacious and good 
mind? The enjoyment, therefore, of that good which pro 
ceeds from that sagacious mind can alone make us happy ; 
but virtue is the good of the mind : it follows, therefore, 
that a happy life depends on virtue. Hence proceed all 
things that arc beautiful, honorable, and excellent, as I said 
above (but this point must, I think, be treated of more 
at large), and they are well stored with joys. For, as it 
is clear that a happy life consists in perpetual and unex- 


haustcd pleasures, it follows, too, that a happy life must 
arise from honesty. 

XXIV. But that what I propose to demonstrate to you 
may not rest on mere words only, I must set before you 
the picture of something, as it were, living and moving in 
the world, that may dispose us more for the improvement 
of the understanding and real knowledge. Let us, then, 
pitch upon some man perfectly acquainted with the most 
excellent arts ; let us present him for awhile to our own 
thoughts, and figure him to our own imaginations. In 
the first place, he must necessarily be of an extraordina 
ry capacity ; for virtue is not easily connected with dull 
minds. Secondly, he must have a great desire of discover 
ing truth, from whence will arise that threefold production 
of the mind ; one of which depends on knowing things, 
and explaining nature; the other, in defining what we 
ought to desire and what to avoid; the third, in judg 
ing of consequences and impossibilities, in which consists 
both subtlety in disputing and also clearness of judgment. 
Now, with what pleasure must the mind of a wise man 
be affected which continually dwells in the midst of such 
cares and occupations as these, when he views the revo 
lutions and motions of the whole world, and sees those 
innumerable stars in the heavens, which, though fixed in 
their places, have yet one motion in common with the 
whole universe, and observes the seven other stars, some 
higher, some lower, each maintaining their own course, 
while their motions, though wandering, have certain de 
fined and appointed spaces to run through ! the sight of 
which doubtless urged and encouraged those ancient phi 
losophers to exercise their investigating spirit on many 
other things. Hence arose an inquiry after the beginnings, 
and, as it were, seeds from which all things were produced 
and composed ; what was the origin of every kind of thing, 
whether animate or inanimate, articulately speaking or 
mute ; what occasioned their beginning and end, and by 
what alteration and change one thing was converted into 
another ; whence the earth originated, and by what weights 
it was balanced ; by what caverns the seas were supplied ; 
by what gravity all things being carried down tend always 
to the middle of the world, which in any round body is 
the lowest place. 


XXV. A mind employed on such subjects, and which 
night and day contemplates them, contains in itself that 
precept of the Delphic God, so as to " know itself," and to 
perceive its connection with the divine reason, from whence 
it is filled with an insatiable joy. For reflections on the 
power and nature of the Gods raise in us a desire of im 
itating their eternity. Nor does the mind, that sees the 
necessary dependences and connections that one cause has 
with another, think it possible that it should be itself con 
fined to the shortness of this life. Those causes, though 
they proceed from eternity to eternity, are governed by 
reason and understanding. And he who beholds them 
and examines them, or rather he whose view takes in all 
the parts and boundaries of things, with what tranquillity 
of mind does he look on all human affairs, and on all that 
is nearer him ! Hence proceeds the knowledge of virtue ; 
hence arise the kinds and species of virtues; hence are 
discovered those things which nature regards as the 
bounds and extremities of good and evil ; by this it is dis 
covered to what all duties ought to be referred, and which 
is the most eligible manner of life. And when these and 
similar points have been investigated, the principal conse 
quence which is deduced from them, and that which is our 
main object in this discussion, is the establishment of the 
point, that virtue is of itself sufficient to a happy life. 

The third qualification of our wise man is the next to 
be considered, which goes through and spi'eads itself over 
every part of wisdom; it is that whereby we define each 
particular thing, distinguish the genus from its species, 
connect consequences, draw just conclusions, and distin 
guish truth from falsehood, which is the very art and 
science of disputing ; which is not only of the greatest use 
in the examination of what passes in the world, but is 
likewise the most rational entertainment, and that which 
is most becoming to true wisdom. Such are its effects in 
retirement. Now, let our wise man be considered as pro 
tecting the republic ; what can be more excellent than such 
a character ? By his prudence he will discover the true in 
terests of his fellow-citizens; by his justice he will be pre 
vented from applying what belongs to the public to his 
own use ; and, in short, he will be ever governed by all the 


virtues, which arc many and various. To these let us add 
the advantage of his friendships ; in which the learned 
reckon not only a natural harmony and agreement of sen 
timents throughout the conduct of life, but the utmost 
pleasure and satisfaction in conversing and passing our 
time constantly with one another. What can be wanting 
to such a life as this to make it more happy than it is? 
Fortune herself must yield to a life stored with such joys. 
Now, if it be a happiness to rejoice in such goods of the 
mind, that is to say, in such virtues, and if all wise men 
enjoy thoroughly these pleasures, it must necessarily be 
granted that all such are happy. 

XXVI. A. What, when in torments and on the rack? 

M. Do you imagine I am speaking of him as laid on 
roses and violets? Is itnllowable even for Epicurus (who 
only puts on the appearance of being a philosopher, and 
who himself assumed that name for himself) to say (though, 
as matters stand, I commend him for his saying) that a 
wise man might at all times cry out, though he be burned, 
tortured, cut to pieces, "How little I regard it!" Shall 
this be said by one who defines all evil as pain, and meas 
ures every good by pleasure ; who could ridicule whatever 
we call either honorable or base, and could declare of us 
that AVC were employed about words, and uttering mere 
empty sounds ; and that nothing is to be regarded by us 
but as it is perceived to be smooth or rough by the body ? 
What ! shall such a man as this, as I said, whose under 
standing is little superior to the beasts', be at liberty to 
forget himself; and not only to despise fortune, when the 
whole of his good and evil is in the power of fortune, but 
to say that he is happy in the most racking torture, when 
he had actually declared pain to be not only the greatest 
evil, but the only one ? Nor did he take any trouble to 
provide himself with those remedies which might have 
enabled him to bear pain, such as firmness of mind, a 
shame of doing anything base, exercise, and the habit of 
patience, precepts of courage, and a manly hardiness ; but 
he says that he supports himself on the single recollection 
of past pleasures, as if any one, when the weather was so 
hot as that he was scarcely able to bear it, should comfort 
himself by recollecting that he was once in my country, 


Arpinum, where he was surrounded on every side by cool 
ing streams. For I do not apprehend how past pleasures 
can allay present evils. But when he says that a wise 
man is always happy who would have no right to say so 
if he were consistent with himself, what may they not do 
who allow nothing to be desirable, nothing to be looked 
on as good but what is honorable ? Let, then, the Peripa 
tetics and Old Academics follow my example, and at length 
leave off muttering to themselves ; and openjy and with a 
clear voice let them be bold to say that a happy life may 
not be inconsistent with the agonies of Phalaris's bull. 

XXVII. But to dismiss the subtleties of the Stoics, 
which I am sensible I have employed more than was nec 
essary, let us admit of three kinds of goods ; and let them 
really be kinds of goods, provided no regard is had to 
the body and to external circumstances, as entitled to the 
appellation of good in any other sense than because we 
are obliged to use them: but let those other divine goods 
spread themselves far in every direction, and reach the 
very heavens. Why, then, may I not call him happy, nay, 
the happiest of men, who has attained them ? Shall a 
wise man be afraid of pain ? which is, indeed, the greatest 
enemy to our opinion. For I am persuaded that we are 
prepared and fortified sufficiently, by the disputations of 
the foregoing days, against our own death or that of our 
friends, against grief, and the other perturbations of the 
mind. But pain seems to be the sharpest adversary of 
virtue ; that it is which menaces us with burning torches ; 
that it is which threatens to crush our fortitude, and 
greatness of mind, and patience. Shall virtue, then, yield 
to this? Shall the happy life of a wise and consistent 
man succumb to this ? Good Gods ! how base would this 
be ! Spartan boys will bear to have their bodies torn by 
rods without uttering a groan. I myself have seen at 
Lacedaemon troops of young men, with incredible earnest 
ness contending together with their hands and feet, with 
their teeth arid nails, nay, even ready to expire, rather than 
own themselves conquered. Is any country of barbarians 
more uncivilized or desolate than India? Yet they have 
among them some that are held for wise men, who never 
wear any clothes all their life long, and who bear the 


snow of Caucasus, and the piercing cold of winter, with 
out any pain ; and who if they come in contact with fire 
endure being burned without a groan. The women, too, 
in India, on the death of their husbands have a regular 
contest, and apply to the judge to have it determined which 
of them was best beloved by him; for it is customary 
there for one man to have many wives. She in whose 
favor it is determined exults greatly, and being attended 
by her relations, is laid on the funeral pile with her hus 
band ; the others, who are postponed, walk away very 
much dejected. Custom can never be superior to nature, 
for nature is never to be got the better of. But our minds 
are infected by sloth and idleness, and luxury, and languor, 
and indolence: we have enervated them by opinions and 
bad customs. Who is there who is unacquainted with the 
customs of the Egyptians? Their minds being tainted 
by pernicious opinions, they are ready to bear any torture 
rather than hurt an ibis, a snake, a cat, a dog, or a croco 
dile ; and should any one inadvertently have hurt any of 
these animals, he will submit to any punishment. I am 
speaking of men only. As to the beasts, do they not bear 
cold and hunger, running about in woods, and on moun 
tains and deserts ? Will they not fight for their young 
ones till they are wounded? Are they afraid of any at 
tacks or blows? I mention not what the ambitious will 
suffer for honor's sake, or those who are desirous of praise 
on account of glory, or lovers to gratify their lust. Life 
is full of such instances. 

XXVIII. But let us not dwell too much on these ques 
tions, but rather let us return to our subject. I say, and 
say again, that happiness will submit even to be torment 
ed; and that in pursuit of justice, and temperance, and 
still more especially and principally fortitude, and great 
ness of soul, and patience, it will not stop short at sight of 
the executioner; and when all other virtues proceed calm 
ly to the torture, that one will never halt, as I said, on the 
outside and threshold of the prison ; for Avhat can be baser, 
what can carry a worse appearance, than to be left alone, 
separated from those beautiful attendants ? Not, however, 
that this is by any means possible; for neither can the 
virtues hold together without happiness, nor happiness 


without the virtues ; so that they will not suffer her to de 
sert them, but will carry her along with them, to whatever 
torments, to whatever pain they are led. For it is the 
peculiar quality of a wise man to do nothing that he may 
repent of, nothing against his inclination, but always to 
act nobly, with constancy, gravity, and honesty ; to depend 
on nothing as certainty; to wonder at nothing, when it 
falls out, as if it appeared strange and unexpected to him ; 
to be independent of every one, and abide by his own 
opinion. For my part, I cannot form an idea of anything 
happier than this. The conclusion of the Stoics is indeed 
easy ; for since they are persuaded that the end of good is 
to live agreeably to nature, and to be consistent with that 
as a wise man should do so, not only because it is his 
duty, but because it is in his power it must, of course, 
follow that whoever has the chief good in his power has 
his happiness so too. And thus the life of a wise man is 
always happy. You have here what I think may be con 
fidently said of a happy life; and as things now stand, very 
truly also, unless you can advance something better. 

XXIX. A. Indeed I cannot; but I should be glad to 
prevail on you, unless it is troublesome (as you are under 
no confinement from obligations to any particular sect, but 
gather from all of them whatever strikes you most as hav 
ing the appearance of probability), as you just now seem 
ed to advise the Peripatetics and the Old Academy boldly 
to speak out without reserve, " that wise men are always 
the happiest " I should be glad to hear how you think it 
consistent for them to say so, when you have said so much 
against that opinion, and the conclusions of the Stoics. 

M. I will make Use, then, of that liberty which no one 
has the privilege of using in philosophy but those of our 
school, whose discourses determine nothing, but take in 
everything, leaving them unsupported by the authority of 
any particular person, to be judged of by others, accord 
ing to their weight. And as you seem desirous of know 
ing how it is that, notwithstanding the different opinions 
of philosophers with regard to the ends of goods, virtue 
has still sufficient security for the effecting of a happy life 
which security, as we are informed, Carneades used in 
deed to dispute against; but he disputed as against the 



Stoics, Avhose opinions he combated with great zeal and 
vehemence. I, however, shall handle the question with 
more temper; for if the Stoics have rightly settled the 
ends of goods, the affair is at an end ; for a wise man 
must necessarily be always happy. But let us examine, if 
we can, the particular opinions of the others, that so this 
excellent decision, if I may so call it, in favor of a happy 
life, may be agreeable to the opinions and discipline of all. 
XXX. These, then, are the opinions, as I think, that are 
held and defended the first four are simple ones : " that 
nothing is good but what is honest," according to the Sto 
ics ; " nothing good but pleasure," as Epicurus maintains ; 
" nothing good but a freedom from pain," as Hieronymus 1 
asserts; "nothing good but an enjoyment of the princi 
pal, or all, or the greatest goods of nature," as Carneades 
maintained against the Stoics these are simple, the oth 
ers are mixed propositions. Then there are three kinds 
of goods : the greatest being those of the mind ; the next 
best those of the body ; the third are external goods, as 
the Peripatetics call them, and the Old Academics differ 
very little from them. Dinomachus 2 and Callipho 3 have 
coupled pleasure with honesty; but Diodorus* the Peri 
patetic has joined indolence to honesty. These are the 
opinions that have some footing; for those of Aristo, 5 
Pyrrho, 8 Herillus, 7 and of some others, are quite out of 
date. Now let us see what weight these men have in 

1 Hieronymus was a Rhodian, and a pupil of Aristotle, flourishing 
about 300 u.c. He is frequently mentioned by Cicero. 

a We know very little of Dinomachus. Some MSS. have Clitonia- 

3 Callipho was in all probability a pupil of Epicurus, but we have no 
certain information about him. 

4 Diodorus was a Syrian, and succeeded Critolaus as the head of the 
Peripatetic School at Athens. 

6 Aristo was a native of Ceos, and a pupil of Lycon, who succeeded 
Straton as the head of the Peripatetic School, 270 B.C. He afterward 
himself succeeded Lycon. 

6 Pyrrho was a native of Elis, and the originator of the sceptical 
theories of some of the ancient philosophers. He was a contemporary 
of Alexander. 

7 Herillus was a disciple of Zeno of Cittium, and therefore a Stoic. 
He did not, however, follow all the opinions of his master: he held that 
knowledge was the chief good. Some of the treatises of Cleanthes were 
written expressly to confute him. 


them, excepting the Stoics, whose opinion I think I have 
sufficiently defended ; and indeed I have explained what 
the Peripatetics have to say; excepting that Theophrastus, 
and those who followed him, dread and abhor pain in too 
weak a manner. The others may go on to exaggerate 
the gravity and dignity of virtue, as usual ; and then, after 
they have extolled it to the skies, with the usual extrava 
gance of good orators, it is easy to reduce the other topics 
to nothing by comparison, and to hold them up to con 
tempt. They who think that praise deserves to be sought 
after, even at the expense of pain, are not at liberty to 
deny those men to be happy who have obtained it. Though 
they may be under some evils, yet this name of happy has 
a very wide application. 

XXXI. For even as trading is said to be lucrative, and 
farming advantageous, not because the one never meets 
with any loss, nor the other with any damage from the in 
clemency of the weather, but because they succeed in gen 
eral ; so life may be properly called happy, not from its 
being entirely made up of good things, but because it 
abounds with these to a great and considerable degree. 
By this way of reasoning, then, a happy life may attend 
virtue even to the moment of execution ; nay, may descend 
with her into Phalaris's bull, according to Aristotle, Xenoc- 
rates, Speusippus, Polemon ; and will not be gained over 
by any allurements to forsake her. Of the same opinion 
will Calliphon and Diodorus be ; for they are both of them 
such friends to virtue as to think that all things should be 
discarded and far removed that are incompatible with it. 
The rest seem to be more hampered with these doctrines, 
but yet they get clear of them ; such as Epicurus, Hie- 
ronymus, and whoever else thinks it worth while to defend 
the deserted Carneades : for there is not one of them who 
does not think the mind to be judge of those goods, and 
able sufficiently to instruct him how to despise what has 
the appearance only of good or evil. For what seems to 
you to be the case with Epicurus is the case also with 
Hieronymus and Carneades, and, indeed, with all the rest 
of them ; for who is there who is not sufficiently prepared 
against death and pain ? I will begin, with your leave, 
with him whom we call soft and voluptuous. What ! 


does he seem to you to be afraid of death or pain when 
he calls the day of his death happy ; and who, when he is 
afflicted by the greatest pains, silences them all by recol 
lecting arguments of his own discovering? And this is 
not done in such a manner as to give room for imagining 
that he talks thus wildly from some sudden impulse; but 
his opinion of death is, that on the dissolution of the ani 
mal all sense is lost ; and what is deprived of sense is, as 
he thinks, what we have no concern at all with. And as 
to pain, too, he has certain rules to follow then : if it be 
great, the comfort is that it must be short; if it be of 
long continuance, then it must be supportable. What, 
then ? Do those grandiloquent gentlemen state anything 
better than Epicurus in opposition to these two things 
which distress us the most? And as to other things, do 
not Epicurus and the rest of the philosophers seem suffi 
ciently prepared ? Who is there who does not dread pov 
erty? And yet no true philosopher ever can dread it. 

XXXII. But with how little is this man himself satis 
fied ! No one has said more on frugality. For when a 
man is far removed from those things which occasion a 
desire of money, from love, ambition, or other daily ex 
travagance, why should he be fond of money, or concern 
himself at all about it? Could the Scythian Anacharsis 1 
disregard money, and shall not our philosophers be able 
to do so? We are informed of an epistle of his in these 
words: "Anacharsis to Hanno, greeting. My clothing is 
the same as that with which the Scythians cover them 
selves; the hardness of my feet supplies the want of 
shoes ; the ground is my bed, hunger my sauce, my food 
milk, cheese, and flesh. So you may come to me as to a 
man in want of nothing. But as to those presents you 
take so much pleasure in, you may dispose of them to your 
own citizens, or to the immortal Gods." And almost all 
philosophers, of all schools, excepting those who are warp- 

1 Anacharsis was (Herod., iv., 76) son of Gnurus and brother of Sauli- 
us, King of Thrace. He came to Athens while Solon was occupied in 
framing laws for his people ; and by the simplicity of his way of living, 
and his acute observations on the manners of the Greeks, he excited 
such general admiration that he was reckoned by some writers among 
the Seven Wise Men of Greece. 


cd from right reason by a vicious disposition, might have 
been of this same opinion. Socrates, when on one occasion 
he saw a great quantity of gold and silver carried in a pro 
cession, cried out, " How many things are there which I 
do not want !" Xenocrates, when some ambassadors from 
Alexander had brought him fifty talents, which was a very 
large sum of money in those times, especially at Athens, 
carried the ambassadors to sup in the Academy, and placed 
just a sufficiency before them, without any apparatus. 
When they asked him, the next day, to whom he wished 
the money which they had for him to be paid : " What !" 
said he, " did you not perceive by our slight repast of yes 
terday that I had no occasion for money ?" But when he 
perceived that they were somewhat dejected, he accepted 
of thirty minae, that he might not seem to treat with dis 
respect the king's generosity. But Diogenes took a great 
er liberty, like a Cynic, when Alexander asked him if he 
wanted anything : " Just at present," said he, " I wish that 
you would stand a little out of the line between me and 
the sun," for Alexander was hindering him from sunning 
himself. And, indeed, this very man used to maintain how 
much he surpassed the Persian king in his manner of life 
and fortune; for that he himself was in want of nothing, 
while the other never had enough ; and that he had no in 
clination for those pleasures of which the other could nev 
er get enough to satisfy himself ; and that the other could 
never obtain his. 

XXXIII. You see, I imagine, how Epicurus has divided 
his kinds of desires, not very acutely perhaps, but yet use 
fully : saying that they are "partly natural and necessary; 
partly natural, but not necessary; partly neither. That 
those which are necessary may be supplied almost for 
nothing; for that the things which nature requires are 
easily obtained." As to the second kind of desires, his 
opinion is that any one may easily cither enjoy or go with 
out them. And with regard to the third, since they are 
utterly frivolous, being neither allied to necessity nor nat 
ure, he thinks that they should be entirely rooted out. On 
this topic a great many arguments are adduced by the 
Epicureans ; and those pleasures which they do not de 
spise in a body, they disparage one by one, and seem rath- 


cr for lessening the number of them; for as to wanton 
pleasures, on which subject they say a great deal, these, 
say they, are easy, common, and within any one's reach ; 
and they think that if nature requires them, they are not 
to be estimated by birth, condition, or rank, but by shape, 
age, and person : and that it is by no means difficult to re 
frain from them, should health, duty, or reputation require 
it; but that pleasures of this kind may be desirable, where 
they are attended with no inconvenience, but can never 
be of any use. And the assertions which Epicurus makes 
with respect to the whole of pleasure are such as show his 
opinion to be that pleasure is always desirable, and to be 
pursued merely because it is pleasure ; and for the same 
reason pain is to be avoided, because it is pain. So that 
a wise man will always adopt such a system of counter 
balancing as to do himself the justice to avoid pleasure, 
should pain ensue from it in too great a proportion ; and 
will submit to pain, provided the effects of it are to pro 
duce a greater pleasure: so that all pleasurable things, 
though the corporeal senses are the judges of them, are 
still to be referred to the mind, on which account the body 
rejoices while it perceives a present pleasure; but that the 
mind not only perceives the present as well as the body, 
but foresees it while it is coming, and even when it is past 
will not let it quite slip away. So that a wise man enjoys 
a continual series of pleasures, uniting the expectation of 
future pleasure to the recollection of what he has already 
tasted. The like notions are applied by them to high liv 
ing; and the magnificence and expensiveness of entertain 
ments are deprecated, because nature is satisfied at a small 

XXXIV. For who does not see this, that an appetite 
is the best sauce? When Darius, in his flight from the 
enemy, had drunk some water which was muddy and 
tainted with dead bodies, he declared that he had never 
drunk anything more pleasant; the fact was, that he had 
never drunk before when lie was thirsty. Nor had Ptol 
emy ever eaten when he was hungry ; for as he was trav 
elling over Egypt, his company not keeping up with him, 
lie had some coarse bread presented him in a cottage, 
upon which he said, " Nothing ever seemed to him pleas- 


jmter than that bread." They relate, too, of Socrates, that, 
once when he was walking very fast till the evening, on 
his being asked why he did so, his reply was that he 
was purchasing an appetite by walking, that he might sup 
the better. And do we not see what the Lacedemonians 
provide in their Phiditia? where the tyrant Dionysius 
supped, but told them he did not at all like that black 
broth, which was their principal dish ; on which he who 
dressed it said, " It was no wonder, for it wanted season 
ing." Dionysius asked what that seasoning was ; to which 
it was replied, " Fatigue in hunting, sweating, a race on 
the banks of Eurotas, hunger and thirst," for these are the 
seasonings to the Lacedajmonian banquets. And this may 
not only be conceived from the custom of men, but from 
the beasts, who are satisfied with anything that is thrown 
before them, provided it is not unnatural, and they seek 
no farther. Some entire cities, taught by custom, delight 
in parsimony, as I said but just now of the Lacedaamo- 
nians. Xenophon has given an account of the Persian diet, 
who never, as he saith, use anything but cresses with 
their bread ; not but that, should nature require anything 
more agreeable, many things might be easily supplied by 
the ground, and plants in great abundance, and of incom 
parable sweetness. Add to this strength and health, as 
the consequence of this abstemious way of living. Now, 
compare with this those who sweat and belch, being cram 
med with eating, like fatted oxen ; then will you perceive 
that they who pursue pleasure most attain it least; and 
that the pleasure of eating lies not in satiety, but appetite. 
XXXV. They report of Timotheus, a famous man at 
Athens, and the head of the city, that having supped with 
Plato, and being extremely delighted with his entertain 
ment, on seeing him the next day, he said, " Your suppers 
are not only agreeable while I partake of them, but the 
next day also." Besides, the understanding is impaired 
when we are full with overeating and drinking. There is 
an excellent epistle of Plato to Dion's relations, in which 
there occurs as nearly as possible these words : " When I 
came there, that happy life so much talked of, devoted to 
Italian and Syracusan entertainments, was noways agree 
able to me: to be crammed twice a day, and never to 


have the night to yourself, and the other things which are 
the accompaniments of this kind of life, by which a man 
will never be made the wiser, but will be rendered much 
less temperate; for it must be an extraordinary disposi 
tion that can be temperate in such circumstances." How, 
then, can a life be pleasant without prudence and temper 
ance? Hence you discover the mistake of Sardanapalus, 
the wealthiest king of the Assyrians, who ordered it to be 
engraved on his tomb, 

I still have what in food I did exhaust ; 
But what I left, though excellent, is lost. 

"What less than this," says Aristotle, "could oe in 
scribed on the tomb, not of a king, but an ox ?" He said 
that he possessed those things when dead, which, in his 
lifetime, he could have no longer than while he was enjoy 
ing them. Why, then, are riches desired ? And wherein 
doth poverty prevent us from being happy ? In the want, 
I imagine, of statues, pictures, and diversions. But if any 
one is delighted with these things, have not the poor peo 
ple the enjoyment of them more than they who are the 
owners of them in the greatest abundance? For we have 
great numbers of them displayed publicly in our city. 
And whatever store of them private people have, they can 
not have a great number, and they but seldom see them, 
only when they go to their country seats; and some of 
them must be stung to the heart when they consider how 
they came by them. The day would fail me, should I be 
inclined to defend the cause of poverty. The thing is man 
ifest ; and nature daily informs us how few things there 
are, and how trifling they are, of which she really stands 
in need. 

XXXVI. Let us inquire, then, if obscurity, the want of 
power, or even the being unpopular, can prevent a wise 
man from being happy. Observe if popular favor, and 
this glory which they are so fond of, be not attended with 
more uneasiness than pleasure. Our friend Demosthenes 
was certainly very weak in declaring himself pleased with 
the whisper of a woman who was carrying water, as is the 
custom in Greece, and who whispered to another, " That is 
he that is Demosthenes." What could be weaker than 


this ? and yet what an orator he was ! But although he 
had learned to speak to others, he had conversed but lit 
tle with himself. We may perceive, therefore, that pop 
ular glory is not desirable of itself; nor is obscurity to 
be dreaded. " I came to Athens," saith Democritus, " and 
there was no one there that knew me:" this was a mod 
erate and grave man who could glory in his obscurity. 
Shall musicians compose their tunes to their own tastes? 
and shall a philosopher, master of a much better art, seek 
to ascertain, not what is most true, but what will please 
the people? Can anything be more absurd than to de 
spise the vulgar as mere unpolished mechanics, taken sin 
gly, and to think them of consequence when collected into 
a body? These wise men would contemn our ambitious 
pursuits and our vanities, and would reject all the honors 
which the people could voluntarily offer to them ; but we 
know not how to despise them till we begin to repent of 
having accepted them. There is an anecdote related by 
Heraclitus, the natural philosopher, of Hermodorus, the 
chief of the Ephesians, that he said " that all the Ephe- 
sians ought to be punished with death for saying, when 
they had expelled Hermodorus out of their city, that they 
would have no one among them better than another ; but 
that if there were any such, he might go elsewhere to some 
other people." Is not this the case with the people every 
where ? Do they not hate every virtue that distinguishes 
itself? What! was not Aristides (I had rather instance 
in the Greeks than ourselves) banished his country for be 
ing eminently just? What troubles, then, are they free 
from who have no connection whatever with the people ? 
What is more agreeable than a learned retirement? I 
speak of that learning which makes us acquainted with 
the boundless extent of nature and the universe, and which 
even while we remain in this world discovers to us both 
heaven, earth, and sea. 

XXXVII. If, then, honor and riches have no value, what 
is there else to be afraid of? Banishment,! suppose; which 
is looked on as the greatest evil. Now, if the evil of ban 
ishment proceeds not from ourselves, but from the froward 
disposition of the people, I have just now declared how 
contemptible it is. But if to leave one's country be mis- 



erable, the provinces are full of miserable men, very few 
of the settlers in which ever return to their country again. 
But exiles are deprived of their property ! What, then ! 
has there not been enough said on bearing poverty ? But 
with regard to banishment, if we examine the nature of 
things, not the ignominy of the name, how little does it 
differ from constant travelling! in which some of the most 
famous philosophers have spent their whole life, as Xenoc- 
rates, Grantor, Arcesilas, Lacydes, Aristotle, Theophrastus, 
Zeno, Cleanthes, Chrysippus, Antipater, Carneades, Panae- 
tius, Clitomachus, Philo, Antiochus, Posidonius, and innu 
merable others, who from their first setting- out never re 
turned home again. Now, what ignominy can a wise man 
be affected with (for it is of such a one that I am speak 
ing) who can be guilty of nothing which deserves it ? for 
there is no occasion to comfort one who is banished for 
his deserts. Lastly, they can easily reconcile themselves 
to every accident who measure all their objects and pur 
suits in life by the standard of pleasure ; so that in what 
ever place that is supplied, there they may live happily. 
Thus what Teucer said may be applied to every case : 

"Wherever I am happy is my country." 

Socrates, indeed, when he was asked where he belong 
ed to, replied, " The world ;" for he looked upon himself 
as a citizen and inhabitant of the whole world. How was 
it with T. Altibutius ? Did he not follow his philosoph 
ical studies with the greatest satisfaction at Athens, al 
though he was banished ? which, however, would not have 
happened to him if he had obeyed the laws of Epicurus 
and lived peaceably in the republic. In what was Epicu 
rus happier, living in his own country, than Metrodorus, 
who lived at Athens? Or did Plato's happiness exceed 
that of Xenocrates, or Polemo, or Arcesilas? Or is that 
city to be valued much that banishes all her good and 
wise men? Demaratus, the father of our King Tarquin, 
not being able to bear the tyrant Cypselus, fled from 
Corinth to Tarquinii, settled there, and had children. Was 
it, then, an unwise act in him to prefer the liberty of ban 
ishment to slavery at home ? 

XXXVIII. Besides the emotions of the mind, all griefs 


and anxieties are assuaged by forgetting thorn, and turn 
ing our thoughts to pleasure. Therefore, it was not with 
out reason that Epicurus presumed to say that a wise man 
abounds with good things, because he may always have 
his pleasures ; from whence it follows, as he thinks, that 
that point is gained which is the subject of our present 
inquiry, that a wise man is always happy. What ! though 
he should be deprived of the senses of seeing and heai 1 - 
ing? Yes; for he holds those things very cheap. For, 
in the first place, what are the pleasures of which we are 
deprived by that dreadful thing, blindness ? For though 
they allow other pleasures to be confined to the senses, 
yet the things which are perceived by the sight do not 
depend wholly on the pleasure the eyes receive ; as is the 
case when we taste, smell, touch, or hear; for, in respect 
of all these senses, the organs themselves are the seat of 
pleasure; but it is not so with the eyes. For it is the 
mind which is entertained by what we see; but the mind 
may be entertained in many ways, even though we could 
not see at all. I am speaking of a learned and a wise 
man, with whom to think is to live. But thinking in the 
case of a wise man does not altogether require the use of 
his eyes in his investigations ; for if night does not strip 
him of his happiness, why should blindness, which re 
sembles night, have that effect? For the reply of Antip- 
ater the Cyrenaic to some women who bewailed his be 
ing blind, though it is a little too obscene, is not without 
its significance. " What do you mean ?" saith he ; " do 
you think the night can furnish no pleasure?" And we 
find by his magistracies and his actions that old Appius, 1 
too, who was blind for many years, was not prevented 
from doing whatever was required of him with respect 
either to the republic or his own affairs. It is said that 
C. Drusus's house was crowded with clients. When 
they whose business it was could not see how to conduct 
themselves, they applied to a blind guide. 

XXXIX. When I was a boy, Cn. Aufidius, a blind man, 

1 This was Appius Claudius Coecus, who was censor 310 B.C., and 
who, according to Livy, was afflicted with blindness by the Gods for per 
suading the Potitii to instruct the public servants in the way of sacri 
ficing to Hercules. He it was who made the Via Appia. 


who had served the office of praetor, not only gave his 
opinion in the Senate, and was ready to assist his friends, 
but wrote a Greek history, and had a considerable ac 
quaintance with literature. Diodorus the Stoic was blind, 
and lived many years at my house. He, indeed, which 
is scarcely credible, besides applying himself more than 
usual to philosophy, and playing on the flute, agreeably 
to the custom of the Pythagoreans, and having books 
read to him night and day, in all which he did not want 
eyes, contrived to teach geometry, which, one would think, 
could hardly be done without the assistance of eyes, tell 
ing his scholars how and where to draw every line. They 
relate of Asclepiades, a native of Eretria, and no ob 
scure philosopher, when some one asked him what incon 
venience he suffered from his blindness, that his reply was, 
"He was at the expense of another servant." So that, 
as the most extreme poverty may be borne if you please, 
as is daily the case with some in Greece, so blindness may 
easily be borne, provided you have the support of good 
health in other respects. Democritus was so blind he 
could not distinguish white from black ; but he knew the 
difference between good and evil, just and unjust, honora 
ble and base, the useful and useless, great and small. Thus 
one may live happily without distinguishing colors; but 
without acquainting yourself with things, you cannot; and 
this man was of opinion that the intense application of the 
mind was taken off by the objects that presented them 
selves to the eye; and while others often could not sec 
what was before their feet, he travelled through all infini 
ty. It is reported also that Homer 1 was blind, but we ob- 

1 The fact of Homer's blindness rests on a passage in the Hymn to 
Apollo, quoted by Thucydides as a genuine work of Homer, and which 
is thus spoken of by one of the most accomplished scholars that this 
country or this age has ever produced: "They are indeed beautiful 
verses; and if none worse had ever been attributed to Homer, the Prince 
of Poets would have had little reason to complain. 

"He has been describing the Delian festival in honor of Apollo and 
Diana, and concludes this part of the poem with an address to the 
women of that island, to whom it is to be supposed that he had become 
familiarly known by his frequent recitations : 

Xalpe-re S' i/ueir TTUCTCU, /U6u> ie (ca< /ueroTTiffSe 
Iivtj<ra<r0\ oirirort nfv Tit twtxQoviiav ufOpianuv 


serve his painting as well as his poetry. What country, 
what coast, what part of Greece, what military attacks, 
what dispositions of battle, what array, what ship, what 
motions of men and animals, can be mentioned which he 
has not described in such a manner as to enable us to see 
what he could not see himself? What, then ! can we im 
agine that Homer, or any other learned man, has ever been 
in want of pleasure and entertainment for his mind? 
Were it not so, would Anaxagoras, or this very Democri- 
tus, have left their estates and patrimonies, and given them 
selves up to the pursuit of acquiring this divine pleasure ? 
It is thus that the poets who have represented Tiresias the 
Augur as a wise man and blind never exhibit him as be 
wailing his blindness. And Homer, too, after he had de 
scribed Polyphemus as a monster and a wild man, repre 
sents him talking with his ram, and speaking of his good 
fortune, inasmuch as he could go wherever he pleased and 
touch what he would. And so far he was right, for that 
Cyclops was a being of not much more understanding than 
his ram. 

XL. Now, as to the evil of being deaf. M. Crassus was 
a little thick of hearing; but it was more uneasiness to 
him that he heard himself ill spoken of, though, in my 
opinion, he did not deserve it. Our Epicureans cannot 
understand Greek, nor the Greeks Latin : now, they are 
deaf reciprocally as to each other's language, and we are 
all truly deaf with regard to those innumerable languages 
which we do not understand. They do not hear the voice 
of the harper; but, then, they do not hear the grating of a 
saw when it is setting, or the grunting of a hog when his 

it/Odd' aveipriTai feu/or raXairetpiot f\9uiv 
til Kovpat, vis i' vnfjitv avtip r\&t<nos aoi6S>v 
evBaSe TrwXelVai nal Ttui TfpirfffOf fid\i<na ; 
vtielt 6' eu fj.d\a 7ra<rai vnoKpivaaOe u<p' nn<*n>, 
Tv(p\6f uvijp, oiKtt ie Xtu> vi iraiira\ottrari, 
TOV iruaai /iCToTria^ev apicrTeuovffiv aoi&ai. 

Virgins, farewell and oh ! remember me 
Hereafter, when some stranger from the sea, 
A hapless wanderer, may vour isle explore, 
And ask yon, 'Maids, of all the bards yon boast, 
Who sings the sweetest, and delights yon most?' 
Oh ! answer all, 'A blind old man, and poor, 
Sweetest he sings, and dwells on Chios' rocky shore.' " 

Coleridge's Introduction to the Stiidy of the Greek Classic Poets. 


throat is being cut, nor the roaring of the sea when they 
are desirous of rest. And if they should chance to be fond 
of singing, they ought, in the first place, to consider that 
many wise men lived happily before music was discov 
ered ; besides, they may have more pleasure in reading 
verses than in hearing them sung. Then, as I before re 
ferred the blind to the pleasures of hearing, so I may the 
deaf to the pleasures of sight : moreover, whoever can con 
verse with himself doth not need the conversation of an 
other. But suppose all these misfortunes to meet in one 
person : suppose him blind and deaf let him be afflicted 
with the sharpest pains of body, which, in the first place, 
generally of themselves make an end of him ; still, should 
they continue so long, and the pain be so exquisite, that we 
should be unable to assign any reason for our being so af 
flicted still, why, good Gods ! should we be under any 
difficulty? For there is a retreat at hand: death is that 
retreat a shelter where we shall forever be insensible. 
Theodorus said to Lysimachus, who threatened him with 
death, " It is a great matter, indeed, for you to have ac 
quired the power of a Spanish fly !" When Perses en 
treated Paulus not to lead him in triumph, " That is a 
matter which you have in your own power," said Paulus. 
I said many things about death in our first day's disputa 
tion, when death was the subject ; and not a little the next 
day, when I treated of pain ; which things if you recollect, 
there can be no danger of your looking upon death as un 
desirable, or, at least, it will not be dreadful. 

That custom which is common among the Grecians 
at their banquets should, in my opinion, be observed in 
life: Drink, say they, or leave the company; and rightly 
enough; for a guest should either enjoy the pleasure of 
drinking with others, or else not stay till he meets with 
affronts from those that are in liquor. Thus, those in 
juries of fortune which you cannot bear you should flee 

XLI. This is the very same which is said by Epicu 
rus and Hieronymus. Now, if those philosophers, whose 
opinion it is that virtue has no power of itself, and who 
say that the conduct which we denominate honorable and 
laudable is really nothing, and is only an empty circuni- 


stance set off with an unmeaning sound, can nevertheless 
maintain that a wise man is always happy, what, think 
you, may be done by the Socratic and Platonic philoso 
phers ? Some of these allow such superiority to the goods 
of the mind as quite to eclipse what concerns the body 
and all external circumstances. But others do not admit 
these to be goods; they make everything depend on the 
inind : whose disputes Carneades used, as a sort of hon 
orary arbitrator, to determine. For, as what seemed 
goods to the Peripatetics were allowed to be advantages 
by the Stoics, and as the Peripatetics allowed no more to 
riches, good health, and other things of that sort than the 
Stoics, when these things were considered according to 
their reality, and not by mere names, his opinion was that 
there was no ground for disagreeing. Therefore, let the 
philosophers of other schools see how they can establish 
this point also. It is very agreeable to me that they make 
some professions worthy of being uttered by the mouth 
of a philosopher with regard to a wise man's having al 
ways the means of living happily. 

XLII. But as we are to depart in the morning, let us 
remember these five days' discussions; though, indeed, I 
think I shall commit them to writing : for how can I bet 
ter employ the leisure which I have, of whatever kind it 
is, and whatever it be owing to ? And I will send these 
five books also to my friend Brutus, by whom I was not 
only incited to write on philosophy, but, I may say, pro 
voked. And by so doing it is not easy to say what service 
I may be of to others. At all events, in my own various 
and acute afflictions, which surround me on all sides, I 
cannot find any better comfort for myself. 



I. THERE are many things in philosophy, my dear Bru 
tus, which are not as yet fully explained to us, and par 
ticularly (as you very well know) that most obscure and 
difficult question concerning the Nature of the Gods, so 
extremely necessary both towards a knowledge of the hu 
man mind and the practice of true religion : concerning 
which the opinions of men are so various, and so different 
from each other, as to lead strongly to the inference that 
ignorance 1 is the cause, or origin, of philosophy, and that 
the Academic philosophers have been prudent in refusing 
their assent to things uncertain: for what is more unbe 
coming to a wise man than to judge rashly? or what rash 
ness is so unworthy of the gravity and stability of a phi 
losopher as either to maintain false opinions, or, without 
the least hesitation, to support and defend what he has 
not thoroughly examined and does not clearly compre 
hend ? 

In the question now before us, the greater part of man 
kind have united to acknowledge that which is most prob 
able, and which we are all by nature led to suppose, name 
ly, that there are Gods. Protagoras 2 doubted whether 
there were any. Diagoras the Melian and Theodorus of 
Cyrene entirely believed there were no such beings. But 
they who have affirmed that there are Gods, have express 
ed such a variety of sentiments on the subject, and the 
disagreement between them is so great, that it would be 

1 Some read scientiam and some inscientiam ; the latter of which is 
preferred by some of the best editors and commentators. 

a For a short account of these ancient Greek philosophers, see the 
sketch prefixed to the Academics (Classical Library). 


tiresome to enumerate their opinions; for they give us 
many statements respecting the forms of the Gods, and 
their places of abode, and the employment of their lives. 
And these are matters on which the philosophers differ 
with the most exceeding earnestness. But the most con 
siderable part of the dispute is, whether they are wholly 
inactive, totally unemployed, and free from all care and 
administration of affairs ; or, on the contrary, whether all 
things were made and constituted by them from the begin 
ning; and whether they will continue to be actuated and 
governed by them to eternity. This is one of the greatest 
points in debate ; and unless this is decided, mankind must 
necessarily remain in the greatest of errors, and ignorant 
of what is most important to be known. 

II. For there are some philosophers, both ancient and 
modern, who have conceived that the Gods take not the 
least cognizance of human affairs. But if their doctrine 
be true, of what avail is piety, sanctity, or religion ? for 
these are feelings and marks of devotion which are offered 
to the Gods by men with uprightness and holiness, on the 
ground that men are the objects of the attention of the 
Gods, and that many benefits are conferred by the immor 
tal Gods on the human race. But if the Gods have neither 
the power nor the inclination to help us; if they take no 
care of us, and pay no regard to our actions ; and if there 
is no single advantage which can possibly accrue to the 
life of man; then what reason can we have to pay any 
adoration, or any honors, or to prefer any prayers to them? 
Piety, like the other virtues, cannot have any connection 
with vain show or dissimulation ; and without piety, nei 
ther sanctity nor religion can be supported; the total sub 
version of which must be attended with great confusion 
and disturbance in life. 

I do not even know, if we cast off piety towards the 
Gods, but that faith, and all the associations of human 
life, and that most excellent of all virtues, justice, may 
perish with it. 

There are other philosophers, and those, too, very great 
and illustrious men, who conceive the whole world to be di 
rected and governed by the will and wisdom of the Gods ; 
nor do they stop here, but conceive likewise that the Deities 


consult and provide for the preservation of mankind. For 
they think that the fruits, and the produce of the earth, 
and the seasons, and the variety of weather, and the change 
of climates, by which all the productions of the earth are 
brought to maturity, are designed by the immortal Gods 
for the use of man. They instance many other things, 
which shall be related in these books ; and which would 
almost induce us to believe that the immortal Gods had 
made them all expressly and solely for the benefit and ad 
vantage of men. Against these opinions Carneades has 
advanced so much that what he has said should excite a 
desire in men who are not naturally slothful to search 
after truth; for there is no subject on which the learned 
as well as the unlearned differ so strenuously as in this ; 
and since their opinions are so various, and so repugnant 
one to another, it is possible that none of them may be, 
and absolutely impossible that more than one should be, 

III. Now, in a cause like this, I may be able to pacify 
well-meaning opposers, and to confute invidious censurers, 
so as to induce the latter to repent of their unreasonable 
contradiction, and the former to be glad to learn ; for they 
who admonish one in a friendly spirit should be instruct 
ed, they who attack one like enemies should be repelled. 
But I observe that the several books which I have lately 
published 1 have occasioned much noise and various dis 
course about them; some people wondering what the rea 
son has been why I have applied myself so suddenly to 
the study of philosophy, and others desirous of knowing 
what my opinion is on such subjects. I likewise per 
ceive that many people wonder at my following that phi 
losophy 4 chiefly which seems to take away the light, and 
to bury and envelop things in a kind of artificial night, and 
that I should so unexpectedly have taken up the defence 
of a school that has been long neglected and forsaken. 
But it is a mistake to suppose that this application to phil 
osophical studies has been sudden on my part. I have ap- 

1 Cicero wrote his philosophical works in the last three years of his 
life. When he wrote this piece, he was in the sixty-third year of his 
nge, in the year of Rome 709. 

2 The Academic. 


plied myself to them from my youth, at no small expense 
of time and trouble ; and I have been in the habit of phi 
losophizing a great deal when I least seemed to think about 
it ; for the truth of which I appeal to my orations, which 
are filled with quotations from philosophers, and to my in 
timacy with those very learned men who frequented my 
house and conversed daily with me, particularly Diodorus, 
Philo, Antiochus, and Posidonius, 1 under whom I was bred; 
and if all the precepts of philosophy are to have reference 
to the conduct of life, I am inclined to think that I have ad 
vanced, both in public and private affairs, only such prin 
ciples as may be supported by reason and authority. 

IV. But if any one should ask what has induced me, in 
the decline of life, to write on these subjects, nothing is 
more easily answered ; for when I found myself entirely 
disengaged from business, and the commonwealth reduced 
to the necessity of being governed by the direction and 
care of one man, 8 I thought it becoming, for the sake of 
the public, to instruct my countrymen in philosophy, and 
that it Avould be of importance, and much to the honor and 
commendation of our city, to have such great and excel 
lent subjects introduced in the Latin tongue. I the less 
repent of my undertaking, since I plainly see that I have 
excited in many a desire, not only of learning, but of writ 
ing; for we have had several Romans well grounded in 
the learning of the Greeks who were unable to communi 
cate to their countrymen what they had learned, because 
they looked upon it as impossible to express that in Latin 
which they had received from the Greeks. In this point 
I think I have succeeded so well that what I have done is 
not, even in copiousness of expression, inferior to that lan 

o o 

Another inducement to it was a melancholy disposition 
of mind, and the great and heavy oppression of fortune 
that was upon me ; from which, if I could have found any 
surer remedy, I would not have sought relief in this pur 
suit. But I could procure ease by no means better than 
by not only applying myself to books, but by devoting my- 

1 Diodorus and Posidonius were Stoics ; Philo and Antiochus were 
Academics ; but the latter afterward inclined to the doctrine of the Stoics. 
a Julius Ciesar. 


self to the examination of the whole body of philosophy. 
And every part and branch of this is readily discovered 
Avhen every question is propounded in writing ; for there is 
such an admirable continuation and series of things that 
each seems connected with the other, and all appear linked 
together and united. 

V. Now, those men who desire to know my own private 
opinion on every particular subject have more curiosity than 
is necessary. For the force of reason in disputation is to 
be sought after rather than authority, since the authority 
of the teacher is often a disadvantage to those who are 
willing to learn; as they refuse to use their own judgment, 
and rely implicitly on him whom they make choice of for 
a preceptor. Nor could I ever approve this custom of the 
Pythagoreans, who, when they affirmed anything in dispu 
tation, and were asked why it was so, used to give this an 
swer : " He himself has said it ;" and this " he himself," it 
seems, was Pythagoras. Such was the force of prejudice 
and opinion that his authority was to prevail even without 
argument or reason. 

They who wonder at ray being a follower of this sect in 
particular may find a satisfactory answer in my four books 
of Academical Questions. But I deny that I have under 
taken the protection of what is neglected and forsaken ; 
for the opinions of men do not die with them, though they 
may perhaps want the author's explanation. This manner 
of philosophizing, of disputing all things and assuming 
nothing certainly, was begun by Socrates, revived by Ar- 
cesilaus, confirmed by Carneades, and has descended, with 
all its power, even to the present age ; but I am informed 
that it is now almost exploded even in Greece. However, 
I do not impute that to any fault in the institution of the 
Academy, but to the negligence of mankind. If it is diffi 
cult to know all the doctrines of any one sect, how much 
more is it to know those of every sect ! which, however, 
must necessarily be known to those who resolve, for the 
sake of discovering truth, to dispute for or against all phi 
losophers without partiality. 

I do not profess myself to be master of this difficult and 
noble faculty ; but I do assortthat_I have e ndc.ivorefl t.q 
make myself so"p"and it iS'iiVipossible that they who choose 



this manner of philosophizing should not meet at least with 
something worthy ( their pursuit. I have spoken more 
fully on this head in another place. But as some are too 
slow of apprehension, and some too careless, men stand in 
perpetual need of caution. For we are not people who be 
lieve that there is nothing whatever which is true ; but we 
say that some falsehoods are so blended with all truths, 
and have so great a resemblance to them, that there is no 
certain rule for judging of or assenting to propositions; 
from which this maxim also follows, that many things are 
probable, which, though they are not evident to the senses, 
have still so persuasive and beautiful an aspect that a wise 
man chooses to direct his conduct by them. 

VI. Now, to free myself from the reproach of partiality, 
I propose to lay before you the opinions of various phi 
losophers concerning the nature of the Gods, by which 
means all men may judge which of them are consistent 
with truth ; and if all agree together, or if any one shall 
be found to have discovered what may be absolutely called 
truth, I will then give up the Academy as vain and arro 
gant. So I may cry out, in the words of Statins, in the 

Ye Gods, I call upon, require, pray, beseech, entreat, and implore the 
attention of my countrymen all, both young and old ; 

yet not on so trifling an occasion as when the person in the 
play complains that, 

In this city we have discovered a most flagrant iniquity : here is a pro 
fessed courtesan, who refuses money from her lover ; 

but that they may attend, know, and consider what senti 
ments they ought to preserve concerning religion, piety, 
sanctity, ceremonies, faith, oaths, temples, shrines, and sol 
emn sacrifices ; what they ought to think of the auspices 
over which I preside ;' for all these have relation to the 
present question. The manifest disagreement among the 
most learned on this subject creates doubts in those who 
imagine they have some certain knowledge of the sub 

Which fact I have often taken notice of elsewhere, and 
1 Cicero was one of the College of Augurs. 


I did so more especially at the discussion that was held at 
my friend C. Cotta's concerning the immortal Gods, and 
which was carried on with the greatest care, accuracy, and 
precision ; for coming to him at the time of the Latin 
holidays, 1 according to his own invitation and message 
from him, I found him sitting in his study, 2 and in a dis 
course with C. Velleius, the senator, who was then reputed 
by the Epicureans the ablest of our countrymen. Q. Lu- 
cilius Balbus was likewise there, a great proficient in the 
doctrine of the Stoics, and esteemed equal to the most em 
inent of the Greeks in that part of knowledge. As soon 
as Cotta saw me, You are come, says he, very seasonably ; 
for I arn having a dispute with Velleius on an important 
subject, which, considering the nature of your studies, is 
not improper for you to join in. 

VII. Indeed, says I, I think I am come very seasonably, 
as you say; for here are three chiefs of three principal 
sects met together. If M. Piso 3 was present, no sect of 
philosophy that is in any esteem would want an advocate. 
If Antiochus's book, replies Cotta, which he lately sent to 
Balbus, says true, you have no occasion to wish for your 
friend Piso ; for Antiochus is of the opinion that the Sto 
ics do not differ from the Peripatetics in fact, though they 
do in words ; and I should be glad to know what you think 
of that book, Balbus. I? says he. I wonder that Anti 
ochus, a man of the clearest apprehension, should not see 
what a vast difference there is between the Stoics, who 
distinguish the honest and the profitable, not only in name, 
but absolutely in kind, and the Peripatetics, who blend the 
honest with the profitable in such a manner that they dif 
fer only in degrees and proportion, and not in kind. This 
is not a little difference in words, but a great one in things ; 

1 The Latinoe Ferioe was originally a festival of the Latins, altered by 
Tarquinius Superbus into a Roman one. ft was held in the Alban 
Mount, in honor of Jupiter Latiaris. This holiday lasted six days : it 
was not held at any fixed time ; but the consul was never allowed to 
take the field till he had held them. Vide Smith, Diet. Gr. and Rom. 
Ant., p. 414. 

a Exhedra, the word used by Cicero, means a study, or place where dis 
putes were held. 

3 M. Piso was a Peripatetic. The four great sects were the Stoics, the 
Peripatetics, the Academics, and the Epicureans. 


but of this hereafter. Now, if you think fit, let us return 
to what we began with. 

With all my heart, says Cotta. But that this visitor 
(looking at me), who is just come in, may not be ignorant 
of what we are upon, I will inform him that we were dis 
coursing on the nature of the Gods ; concerning which, as 
it is a subject that always appeared very obscure to me, I 
prevailed on Velleius to give us the sentiments of Epicu 
rus. Therefore, continues he, if it is not troublesome, Vel 
leius, repeat what you have already stated to us. I will, 
says he, though this new-comer will be no advocate for 
me, but for you ; for you have both, adds he, with a smile, 
learned from the same Philo to be certain of nothing. 1 
What we have learned from him, replied I, Cotta will dis 
cover ; but I would not have you think I am come as an 
assistant to him, but as an auditor, with an impartial and 
unbiassed mind, and not bound by any obligation to de 
fend any particular principle, whether I like or dislike it. 

VIII. After this, Velleius, with the confidence peculiar 
to his sect, dreading nothing so much as to seem to doubt 
of anything, began as if he had just then descended from 
the council of the Gods, and Epicurus's intervals of worlds. 
Do not attend, says he, to these idle and imaginary tales ; 
nor to the operator and builder of the World, the God 
of Plato's Timaeus ; nor to the old prophetic dame, the 
Uporoia of the Stoics, which the Latins call Providence; 
nor to that round, that burning, revolving deit} r , the World, 
endowed with sense and understanding ; the prodigies and 
wonders, not of inquisitive philosophers, but of dreamers ! 

For with what eyes of the mind was your Plato able to 
see that workhouse of such stupendous toil, in which he 
makes the world to be modelled and built by God? What 
materials, what tools, what bars, what machines, what ser 
vants, were employed in so vast a work? How could the 
air, fire, water, and earth pay obedience and submit to the 
will of the architect? From whence arose those five 
forms, 2 of which the rest were composed, so aptly con 
tributing to frame the mind and produce the senses ? It 

1 It wns a prevailing tenet of the Academics that there is no certain 

a The five forms of Plato are these : orala, ravrbv, erepov, ardaig, Kiv 


is tedious to go through all, as they are of such a sort that 
they look more like things to be desired than to be dis 

But, what is more remarkable, he gives us a world which 
has been not only created, but, if I may so say, in a manner 
formed with hands, and yet he says it is eternal. Do you 
conceive him to have the least skill in natural philosophy 
who is capable of thinking anything to be everlasting that 
had a beginning? For what can possibly ever have been 
put together which cannot be^lissolved again? Or what 
is there that had a beginning which will not have an end ? 
If your Providence, Lucilius, is the same as Plato's God, I 
ask you, as before, who were the assistants, what were the 
engines, what was the plan and preparation of the whole 
work ? If it is not the same, then why did she make- the 
world mortal, and not everlasting, like Plato's God ? 

IX. But I would demand of you both, why these world- 
builders started up so suddenly, and lay dormant for so 
many ages? For we are not to conclude that, if there 
was no world, there were therefore no ages. I do not now 
speak of such ages as are finished by a certain number of 
days and nights in annual courses; for I acknowledge 
that those could not be without the revolution of the 
world ; but there was a certain eternity from infinite time, 
not measured by any circumscription of seasons ; but 
how that was in space we cannot understand, because we 
cannot possibly have even the slightest idea of time before 
time was. I desire, therefore, to know, Balbus, why this 
Providence of yours was idle for such an immense space 
of time ? Did she avoid labor ? But that could have no 
effect on -the Deity ; nor could there be any labor, since 
all nature, air, fire, earth, and water would obey the di 
vine essence. What was it that incited the Deity to act 
the part of an aedile, to illu'minate and decorate the world V 
If it was in order that God might be the better accommo 
dated in his habitation, then he must have been dwelling 
an infinite length of time before in darkness as in a dun 
geon. But do we imagine that he was afterward delighted 
with that variety with which we see the heaven and earth 
adorned? What entertainment could that be to the Deity? 
If it was any, he would not have been without it so long. 



Or were these things made, as you almost assert, by 
God for the sake of men? Was it for the wise? If so, 
then this great design was adopted for the sake of a very 
small number. Or for the sake of fools? First of all, 
there was no reason why God should consult the advan 
tage of the wicked; and, further, what could be his object 
in doing so, since all fools are, without doubt, the most 
miserable of men, chiefly because they are fools? For 
what can we pronounce more deplorable than folly ? Be 
sides, there are many inconveniences in life which the 
wise can learn to think lightly of by dwelling rather on 
the advantages which they receive; but which fools are 
unable to avoid when they are coming, or to bear when 
they are come. 

X. They who affirm the world to be an animated and 
intelligent being have by no means discovered the nature 
of the mind, nor are able to conceive in what form that 
essence can exist; but of that I shall speak more hereaf 
ter. At present I must express my surprise at the weak 
ness of those who endeavor to make it out to be not only 
animated and immortal, but likewise happy, and round, 
because Plato says that is the most beautiful form ; where 
as I think a cylinder, a square, a cone, or a pyramid more 
beautiful. But what life do they attribute to that round 
Deity ? Truly it is a being whirled about with a celerity 
to which nothing can be even conceived by the imagina 
tion as equal ; nor can I imagine how a settled mind and 
happy life can consist in such motion, the least degree of 
which would be troublesome to us. Why, therefore, should 
it not be considered troublesome also to the Deity? For 
the earth itself, as it is part of the world, is part also of the 
Deity. We see vast tracts of land barren and uninhabi 
table; some, because they are scorched by the too near 
approach of the sun ; others, because they are bound up 
with frost and snow, through the great distance which the 
sun is from them. Therefore, if the world is a Deity, as 
these are parts of the world, some of the Deity's limbs 
must be said to be scorched, and some frozen. 

These are your doctrines, Lucilius ; but what those of 
others are I will endeavor to ascertain by tracing them 
back from the earliest of ancient philosophers. Thales 


the Milesian, who first inquired after such subjects, assert 
ed water to be the origin of things, and that God was that 
mind which formed all things from water. If the Gods 
can exist without corporeal sense, and if there can be a 
mind without a body, why did he annex a mind to water? 

It was Anaximander's opinion that the Gods were 
born ; that after a great length of time they died ; and 
that they are innumerable worlds. But what conception 
can we possibly have of a Deity who is not eternal? 

Anaximenes, after him, taught that the air is God, and 
that he was generated, and that he is immense, infinite, 
and always in motion ; as if air, which has no form, could 
possibly be God ; for the Deity must necessarily be not 
only of some form or other, but of the most beautiful 
form. Besides, is not everything that had a beginning 
subject to mortality? 

XL Anaxagoras, who received his learning from Anax 
imenes, was the first who affirmed the system and dispo 
sition of all things to be contrived and perfected by the 
power and reason of an infinite mind ; in which infinity he 
did not perceive that there could be 110 conjunction of 
sense and motion, nor any sense in the least degree, where 
nature herself could feel no impulse. If he would have 
this mind to be a sort of animal, then there must be some 
more internal principle from whence that animal should 
receive its appellation. But what can be more internal 
than the mind ? Let it, therefore, be clothed with an ex 
ternal body. But this is not agreeable to his doctrine; 
but we are utterly unable to conceive how a pure simple 
mind can exist without any substance annexed to it. 

Alcma3on of Crotona, in attributing a divinity to the 
sun, the moon, and the rest of the stars, and also to the 
mind, did not perceive that he was ascribing immortality 
to mortal beings. 

Pythagoras, who supposed the Deity to be one soul, 
mixing with and pervading all nature, from which our 
souls are taken, did not consider that the Deity himself 
must, in consequence of this doctrine, be maimed and torn 
with the rending every human soul from it; nor that, 
when the human mind is afflicted (as is the case in many 
instances), that part of the Deity must likewise be afflicted, 


which cannot be. If the human mind were a Deity, how 
could it be ignorant of any thing? Besides, how could 
that Deity, if it is nothing but soul, be mixed with, or in 
fused into, the world ? 

Then Xenophanes, who said that everything in the 
world which had any existence, with the addition of intel 
lect, was God, is as liable to exception as the rest, especial 
ly in relation to the infinity of it, in which there can be 
nothing sentient, nothing composite. 

Parmenides formed a conceit to himself of something 
circular like a crown. (He names it Stephane.) It is an 
orb of constant light and heat around the heavens; this 
he calls God ; in which there is no room to imagine any 
divine form or sense. And he uttered many other absurd 
ities on the same subject; for he ascribed a divinity to 
war, to discord, to lust, and other passions of the same 
kind, which are destroyed by disease, or sleep, or oblivion, 
or age. The same honor he gives to the stars ; but I shall 
forbear making any objections to his system here, having 
already done it in another place. 

XII. Empedocles, who erred in many things, is most 
grossly mistaken in his notion of the Gods. He lays 
down four natures 1 as divine, from which he thinks that 
all things were made. Yet it is evident that they have a be 
ginning, that they decay, and that they are void of all sense. 

Protagoras did not seem to have any idea of the real 
nature of the Gods ; for he acknowledged that he was al 
together ignorant whether there are or are not any, or 
what they are. 

What shall I say of Democritus, who classes our images 
of objects, and their orbs, in the number of the Gods; as 
he does that principle through which those images appear 
and have their influence? He deifies likewise our knowl 
edge and understanding. Is he not involved in a very 
great error? And because nothing continues always in 
the same state, he denies that anything is everlasting, does 
he not thereby entirely destroy the Deity, and make it im 
possible to form any opinion of him ? 

1 The four natures here to be understood tire the four elements fire, 
water, air, and earth ; which are mentioned as the four principles of 
Empedocles by Diogenes Laertius. 


Diogenes of Apollonia looks upon the air to be a Deity. 
But what sense can the air have ? or what divine form 
can be attributed to it? 

It would be tedious to show the uncertainty of Plato's 
opinion ; for, in his Timaeus, he denies the propriety of as 
serting that there is one great father or creator of the 
world ; and, in his book of Laws, he thinks we ought not 
to make too strict an inquiry into the nature of the Deity. 
And as for his statement when he asserts that God is a 
being without any body what the Greeks call ao-w^uaroc 
it is certainly o f uit<^umQteUigible how-.that-.the_Qr)Lgan pos- 
for such a God must then necessarily be 

destitute of sen-o, prudence, and pleasure j all which things 
preTieiided in our notion of the Gods. lie like 

wise asserts in his Timanis, and in his Laws, that the world, 
the heavens, the stars, the mind, and those Gods which are 
delivered down to us from our ancestors, constitute the 
Deity. These opinions, taken separately, are apparently 
false; and, together, are directly inconsistent with each 

Xenophon has committed almost the same mistakes, 
but in fewer words. In those sayings which he has related 
of Socrates, he introduces him disputing the lawfulness of 
inquiring into the form of the Deity, and makes him assert 
the sun and the mind to be Deities: he represents him 
likewise as affirming the being of one God only, and at an 
other time of many ; which are errors of almost the same 
kind which I before took notice of in Plato. 

XIII. Antisthenes, in his book called the Natural Phi 
losopher, says that there are many national and one nat 
ural Deity ; but by this saying he destroys the power and 
nature of the Gods. Speusippus is not much less in the 
wrong ; who, following his uncle Plato, says that a certain 
incorporeal power governs everything ; by which he en 
deavors to root out of our minds the knowledge of the 

Aristotle, in his third book of Philosophy, confounds 
many things together, as the rest have done ; but he does 
not differ from his master Plato. At one time he attrib 
utes all divinity to the mind, at another he asserts that the 
world is God. Soon afterward he makes some other es- 


sence preside over the world, and gives it those faculties 
by which, with certain revolutions, he may govern and 
preserve the motion of it. Then he asserts the heat of the 
firmament to be God ; not perceiving the firmament to be 
part of the world, which in another place he had described 
as God. How can that divine sense of the firmament be 
preserved in so rapid a motion? And where do the mul 
titude of Gods dwell, if heaven itself is a Deity? But 
when this philosopher says that God is without a body, 
he makes him an irrational and insensible being. Besides, 
how can the world move itself, if it wants a body ? Or 
how, if it is in perpetual self-motion, can it be easy and 
happy ? 

Xeriocrates, his fellow-pnpil, does not appear much wiser 
on this head, for in his books concerning the nature of the 
Gods no divine form is described ; but he says the num 
ber of them is eight. Five are moving planets ;* the sixth 
is contained in all the fixed stars ; which, dispersed, are so 
many several members, but, considered together, are one 
single Deity ; the seventh is the sun ; and the eighth the 
moon. But in what sense they can possibly be happy is 
not easy to be understood. 

From the same school of Plato, Heraclides of Pontus 
stuffed his books with puerile tales. Sometimes he thinks 
the world a Deity, at other times the mind. He attributes 
divinity likewise to the wandei'ing stars. He deprives the 
Deity of sense, and makes his form mutable; and, in the 
same book again, he makes earth and heaven Deities. 

The unsteadiness of Theophrastus is equally intolerable. 
At one time he attributes a divine prerogative to the mind ; 
at another, to the firmament; at another, to the stars and 
celestial constellations. 

Nor is his disciple Strato, who is called the naturalist, 
any more worthy to be regarded ; for he thinks that the 
divine power is diffused through nature, which is the cause 
of birth, increase, and diminution, but that it has no sense 
nor form. 

XIV. Zeno (to come to your sect, Balbus) thinks the 
law of nature to be the divinity, and that it has the power 

1 These five moving stars are Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, and 
Venus. Their revolutions are considered in the next book. 


to force us to what is right, and to restrain us from what 
is wrong. How this law can be an animated being I can 
not conceive ; but that God is so we would certainly main 
tain. The same person says, in another place, that the sky 
is God ; but can we possibly conceive that God is a being 
insensible, deaf to our prayers, our wishes, and our vows, 
and wholly unconnected with us? In other books he 
thinks there is a certain rational essence pervading all nat 
ure, indued with divine efficacy. He attributes the same 
power to the stars, to the years, to the months, and to the 
seasons. In his interpretation of Hesiod's Theogony, 1 he 
entirely destroys the established notions of the Gods; for 
he excludes Jupiter, Juno, and Vesta, and those esteemed 
divine, from the number of them ; but his doctrine is that 
these are names which by some kind of allusion are given 
to mute and inanimate beings. The sentiments of his dis 
ciple Aristo are not less erroneous. He thought it impos 
sible to conceive the form of the Deity, and asserts that 
the Gods are destitute of sense; and he is entirely dubi 
ous whether the Deity is an animated being or not. 

Cleanthes, who next comes under my notice, a disciple 
of Zeno at the same time with Aristo, in one place says 
that the world is God ; in another, he attributes divinity 
to the mind and spirit of universal nature ; then he asserts 
that the most remote, the highest, the all-surrounding, the 
all-enclosing and embracing heat, which is called the sky, 
is most certainly the Deity. In the books he wrote against 
pleasure, in which he seems to be raving, he imagines the 
Gods to have a certain form and shape; then he ascribes 
all divinity to the stars ; and, lastly, he thinks nothing more 
divine than reason. So that this God, whom we know 
mentally and in the speculations of our minds, from which 
traces we receive our impression, has at last actually no 
visible form at all. 

XV. Persreus, another disciple of Zeno, says that they 
who have made discoveries advantageous to the life of man 
should be esteemed as Gods ; and the very things, he says, 
which are healthful and beneficial have derived their names 
from those of the Gods ; so that he thinks it not sufficient 
to call them the discoveries of Gods, but he urges that they 
1 Or, Generation of the Gods. 


themselves should be deemed divine. What can be more 
absurd than to ascribe divine honors to sordid and deformed 
things ; or to place among the Gods men who are dead and 
mixed with the dust, to whose memory all the respect that 
could be paid would be but mourning for their loss ? 

Chrysippus, who is looked upon as the most subtle in 
terpreter of the dreams of the Stoics, has mustered up a 
numerous band of unknown Gods; and so unknown that 
we are not able to form any idea about them, though our 
mind seems capable of framing any image to itself in its 
thoughts. For he says that the divine power is placed in 
reason, and in the spirit and mind of universal nature ; that 
the world, with a universal effusion of its spirit, is God ; 
that the superior pai't of that spirit, which is the mind and 
reason, is the great principle of nature, containing and pre 
serving the chain of all things; that the divinity is the 
power of fate, and the necessity of future events. He dei 
fies fire also, and what I before called the ethereal spirit, 
and those elements which naturally proceed from it wa 
ter, earth, and air. He attributes divinity to the sun, moon, 
stars, and universal space, the grand container of all things, 
and to those men likewise who have obtained immortality. 
He maintains the sky to be what men call Jupiter; the 
air, which pervades the sea, to be Neptune; and the earth, 
Ceres. In like manner he goes through the names of the 
other Deities. He says that Jupiter is that immutable and 
eternal law which guides and directs us in our manners; 
and this he calls fatal necessity, the everlasting verity of 
future events. But none of these are of such a nature as 
to seem to carry any indication of divine virtue in them. 
These are the doctrines contained in his first book of the 
Nature of the Gods. In the second, he endeavors to ac 
commodate the fables of Orpheus, Musseus, Hesiod, and 
Homer to what he has advanced in the first, in order 
that the most ancient poets, who never dreamed of these 
tilings, may seem to have been Stoics. Diogenes the Bab 
ylonian was a follower of the doctrine of Chrysippus ; and 
in that book which he wrote, entitled "A Treatise concern 
ing Minerva," he separates the account of Jupiter's bring- 
ing-forth, and the birth of that virgin, from the fabulous, 
and reduces it to a natural construction. 


XVI. Thus far have I been rather exposing the dreams 
of dotards than giving the opinions of philosophers. Not 
much more absurd than these are the fables of the poets, 
who owe all their power of doing harm to the sweetness 
of their language; who have represented the Gods as 
enraged with anger and inflamed with lust; who have 
brought before our eyes their wars, battles, combats, 
wounds ; their hatreds, dissensions, discords, births, deaths, 
complaints, and lamentations; their indulgences in all 
kinds of intemperance; their adulteries; their chains; 
their amours with mortals, and mortals begotten by im 
mortals. To these idle and ridiculous flights of the poets 
we may add the prodigious stories invented by the Magi, 
and by the Egyptians also, which were of the same nature, 
together with the extravagant notions of the multitude at 
all times, who, from total ignorance of the truth, are al 
ways fluctuating in uncertainty. 

Now, whoever reflects on the rashness and absurdity of 
these tenets must inevitably entertain the highest respect 
and veneration for Epicurus, and perhaps even rank him 
in the number of those beings who are the subject of this 
dispute; for he alone first founded the idea of the exist 
ence of the Gods on the impression which nature herself 
hath made on the minds of all men. For what nation, 
what people are there, who have not, without any learning, 
a natural idea, or prenotion, of a Deity ? Epicurus calls 
this Trp6\T)4/ic ; that is, an antecedent conception of the fact 
in the mind, without which nothing can be understood, in 
quired after, or discoursed on ; the force and advantage of 
which reasoning we receive from that celestial volume of 
Epicurus concerning the Rule and Judgment of Things. 

XVII. Here, then, you see the foundation of this ques 
tion clearly laid ; for since it is the constant and universal 
opinion of mankind, independent of education, custom, or 
law, that there are Gods, it must necessarily follow that 
this knowledge is implanted in our minds, or, rather, in 
nate in us. That opinion respecting which there is a gen 
eral agreement in universal nature must infallibly be true ; 
therefore it must be allowed that there are Gods ; for in 
tliis we have the concurrence, not only of almost all phi 
losophers, but likewise of the ignorant and illiterate. It 



must be also confessed that the point is established that 
we have naturally this idea, as I said before, or prenotion, 
of the existence of the Gods. As new things require new 
names, so that prenotion was called Trp6\r)\[/ig by Epicurus ; 
an appellation never used before. On the same principle 
of reasoning, we think that the Gods are happy and im 
mortal ; for that nature which hath assured us that there 
are Gods has likewise imprinted in our minds the knowl 
edge of their immortality and felicity ; and if so, what Ep 
icurus hath declared in these words is true : " That which 
is eternally happy cannot be burdened with any labor it 
self, nor can it impose any labor on another ; nor can it be 
influenced by resentment or favor: because things which 
are liable to such feelings must be weak and frail." We 
have said enough to prove that we should worship the 
Gods with piety, and without superstition, if that were the 
only question. 

For the superior and excellent nature of the Gods re 
quires a pious adoration from men, because it is possessed 
of immortality and the most exalted felicity ; for whatever 
excels has a right to veneration, and all fear of the power 
and anger of the Gods should be banished; for we must 
understand that anger and affection are inconsistent with 
the nature of a happy and immortal being. These appre 
hensions being removed, no dread of the superior powers 
remains. To confirm this opinion, our curiosity leads us 
to inquire into the form and life and action of the intellect 
and spirit of the Deity. 

XVIII. With regard to his form, we are directed partly 
by nature and partly by reason. All men are told by nat 
ure that none but a human form can be ascribed to the 
Gods ; for under what other image did it ever appear to 
any one either sleeping or waking ? and, without having 
recourse to our first notions, 1 reason itself declares the 
same ; for as it is easy to conceive that the most excellent 
nature, either because of its happiness or immortality, 
should be the most beautiful, what composition of limbs, 
what conformation of lineaments, what form, what aspect, 
can be more beautiful than the human ? Your sect, Lu- 
cilius (not like my friend Cotta, who sometimes says one 
1 The TrpoAif^te of Epicurus, before mentioned, is what he here means. 


thing and sometimes another), when they represent the di 
vine art and workmanship in the human body, are used to 
describe how very completely each member is formed, not 
only for convenience, but also for beauty. Therefore, if 
the human form excels that of all other animal beings, as 
God himself is an animated being, he must surely be of 
that form which is the most beautiful. Besides, the Gods 
are granted to be perfectly happy; and nobody can be 
happy without virtue, nor can virtue exist where reason is 
not; and reason can reside in none but the human form; 
ic Gods, therefore, must be acknowledged to be of hu 
man form ; yet that form is not body, but something like 
body ; nor does it contain any blood, but something like 
blood. Though these distinctions were more acutely de 
vised and more artfully expressed by Epicurus than any 
common capacity can comprehend; yet, depending on 
your understanding, I shall be more brief on the subject 
than otherwise I should be. Epicurus, who not only dis 
covered and understood the occult and almost hidden se 
crets of nature, but explained them with ease, teaches that 
the power and nature of the Gods is not to be discerned 
by the senses, but by the mind ; nor are they to be con 
sidered as bodies of any solidity, or reducible to number, 
like those things which, because of their firmness, he calls 
Zrtpipvia ; a but as images, perceived by similitude and 
transition. As infinite kinds of those images result from 
innumerable individuals, and centre in the Gods, our minds 
and understanding are directed towards and fixed with the 
greatest delight on them, in order to comprehend what 
that happy and eternal essence is. 

XIX. Surely the mighty power of the Infinite Being is 
most worthy our great and earnest contemplation; the 
nature of which we must necessarily understand to be 
such that everything in it is made to correspond complete 
ly to some other answering part. This is called by Epi 
curus Iffovopia ; that is to say, an equal distribution or even 
disposition of things. From hence he draws this infer- 

ivia is the word which Epicurus used to distinguish between 
those objects which are perceptible to sense, and those which are imper 
ceptible ; as the essence of the Divine Being, and the various operations 
of the divine power. 


once, that, as there is such a vast multitude of mortals, 
there cannot be a less number of immortals ; and if those 
which perish are innumerable, those which are preserved 
ought also to be countless. Your sect, Balbus, frequently 
ask us how the Gods live, and how they pass their time ? 
Their life is the most happy, and the most abounding with 
all kinds of blessings, which can be conceived. They do 
nothing. They are embarrassed with no business ; nor do 
they perform any work. They rejoice in the possession of 
their own wisdom and virtue. They are satisfied that they 
shall ever enjoy the fulness of eternal pleasures. 

XX. Such a Deity may properly be called happy ; but 
yours is a most laborious God. For let us suppose the 
world a Deity what can be a more uneasy state than, 
without the least cessation, to be whirled about the axle- 
tree of heaven with a surprising celerity? But nothing 
can be happy that is not at ease. Or let us suppose a De 
ity residing in the world, who directs and governs it, who 
preserves the courses of the stars, the changes of the sea 
sons, and the vicissitudes and orders of things, surveying 
the earth and the sea, and accommodating them to the ad 
vantage and necessities of man. Truly this Deity is em 
barrassed with a very troublesome and laborious office. 
We make a happy life to consist in a tranquillity of mind, 
a perfect freedom from care, and an exemption from all 
employment. The philosopher from whom we received all 
our knowledge has taught us that the world was made by 
nature ; that there was no occasion for a workhouse to 
frame it in ; and that, though you deny the possibility of 
such a work without divine skill, it is so easy to her, that 
she has made, does make, and will make innumerable 
worlds. But, because you do not conceive that nature is 
able to produce such effects without some rational aid, you 
are forced, like the tragic poets, when you cannot wind up 
your argument in any other way, to have recourse to a 
Deity, whose assistance you would not seek, if you could 
view that vast and unbounded magnitude of regions in all 
parts ; where the mind, extending and spreading itself, 
travels so far and wide that it can find no end, no extremi 
ty to stop at. In this immensity of breadth, length, ami 
height, a most boundless company of innumerable atoms 


are fluttering about, which, notwithstanding the interposi 
tion of a void space, meet and cohere, and continue cling 
ing to one another; and by this union these modifications 
and forms of things arise, which, in your opinions, could 
not possibly be made without the help of bellows and an 
vils. Thus you have imposed on us an eternal master, 
whom we must dread day and night. For who can be 
free from fear of a Deity who foresees, regards, and takes 
notice of everything; one who thinks all things his own; 
a curious, ever-busy God ? 

Hence first arose your E/'/iap/ieVij, as you call it, your fa 
tal necessity ; so that, whatever happens, you affirm that it 
flows from an eternal chain and continuance of causes. Of 
what value is this philosophy, which, like old women and 
illiterate men, attributes everything to fate ? Then follows 
your pav-iKi), in Latin called divinatio, divination ; which, 
if we would listen to you, would plunge us into such su 
perstition that we should fall down and worship your in 
spectors into sacrifices, your augurs, your soothsayers, your 
prophets, and your fortune-tellers. 

Epicurus having freed us from these terrors and re 
stored us to liberty, we have no dread of those beings 
whom we have reason to think entirely free from all 
trouble themselves, and who do not impose any on others. 
We pay our adoration, indeed, with piety and reverence 
to that essence which is above all excellence and perfec 
tion. But I fear my zeal for this doctrine has made me 
too prolix. However, I could not easily leave so eminent 
and important a subject unfinished, though I must confess 
I should rather endeavor to hear than speak so long. 

XXI. Cotta, with his usual courtesy, then began. Vel- 
leius, says he, were it not for something which you have 
advanced, I should have remained silent ; for I have often 
observed, as I did just now upon hearing you, that I can 
not so easily conceive why a proposition is true as why it 
is false. Should you ask me what I take the nature of the 
Gods to be, I should perhaps make no answer. But if 
you should ask whether I think it to be of that nature 
which you have described, I should answer that I was as 
far as possible from agreeing with you. However, before 
I enter on the subject of your discourse and what you 


have advanced upon it, I will give you my opinion of 
yourself. Your intimate friend, L. Crassus, has been of 
ten heard by me to say that you were beyond all question 
superior to all our learned Romans; and that few Epicu 
reans in Greece were to be compared to you. But as I 
knew what a wonderful esteem he had for you, I imagined 
that might make him the more lavish in commendation 
of you. Now, however, though I do not choose to praise 
any one when present, yet I must confess that I think you 
have delivered your thoughts clearly on an obscure and 
very intricate subject; that you are not only copious in 
your sentiments, but more elegant in your language than 
your sect generally are. When I was at Athens, I went 
often to hear Zeno, by the advice of Philo, who used to 
call him the chief of the Epicureans ; partly, probably, in 
order to judge more easily how completely those princi 
ples could be refuted after I had heard them stated by the 
most learned of the Epicureans. And, indeed, he did not 
speak in any ordinary manner; but, like you, with clear 
ness, gravity, and elegance; yet what frequently gave me 
great uneasiness when I heard him, as it did while I at 
tended to you, was to see so excellent a genius falling into 
such frivolous (excuse my freedom), not to say foolish, doc 
trines. However, I shall not at present offer anything bet 
ter; for, as I said before, we can in most subjects, especially 
in physics, sooner discover what is not true than what is. 

XXII. If you should ask me what God is, or what his 
character and nature are, I should follow the example of 
Simonides, who, when Hiero the tyrant proposed the same 
question to him, desired a day to consider of it. When he 
required his answer the next day, Simonides begged two 
days more ; and as he kept constantly desiring double the 
number which he had required before instead of giving 
his answer, Hiero, with surprise, asked him his meaning 
in doing so : " Because," says he, " the longer I meditate 
on it, the more obscure it appears to me." Simonides, who 
was not only a delightful poet, but reputed a wise and 
learned man in other branches of knowledge, found, I sup 
pose, so many acute and refined arguments occurring to 
him, that he was doubtful which was the truest, and there 
fore despaired of discovering any truth. 


But does your Epicurus (for I had rather contend with 
him than with you) say anything that is worthy the name 
of philosophy, or even of common-sense? 

In the question concerning the nature of the Gods, his 
first inquiry is, whether there are Gods or not. It would 
be dangerous, I believe, to take the negative side before a 
public auditory; but it is very safe in a discourse of this 
kind, and in this company. I, who am a priest, and who 
think that religions and ceremonies ought sacredly to be 
maintained, am certainly desirous to have the existence 
of the Gods, which is the principal point in debate, not 
only fixed in opinion, but proved to a demonstration ; for 
many notions flow into and disturb the mind which some 
times seem to convince us that there are none. But see 
how candidly I will behave to you : as I shall not touch 
upon those tenets you hold in common with other philoso 
phers, consequently I shall not dispute the existence of the 
Gods, for that doctrine is agreeable to almost all men, and 
to myself in particular; but I am still at liberty to find 
fault with the reasons you give for it, which I think are 
very insufficient. 

XXIII. You have said that the general assent of men 
of all nations and all degrees is an argument strong enough 
to induce us to acknowledge the being of the Gods. This 
is not only a weak, but a false, argument ; for, first of all, 
how do you know the opinions of all nations? I really 
believe there are many people so savage that they have no 
thoughts of a Deity. What think you of Diagoras, who 
was called the atheist ; and of Theodorus after him ? Did 
not they plainly deny the very essence of a Deity ? Pro 
tagoras of Abdera, whom you just now mentioned, the 
greatest sophist of his age, was banished by order of the 
Athenians from their city and territories, and his books 
were publicly burned, because these words were in the be 
ginning of his treatise concerning the Gods: "I am unable 
to arrive at any knowledge whether there are, or are not, 
any Gods." This treatment of him, I imagine, restrain 
ed many from professing their disbelief of a Deity, since 
the doubt of it only could not escape punishment. What 
shall we say of the sacrilegious, the impious, and the per 
jured? If Tubulus Lucius, Lupus, or Carbo the son of 


Neptune, as Lucilius says, had believed that there were 
Gods, would either of them have carried his perjuries and 
impieties to such excess? Your reasoning, therefore, to 
confirm your assertion is not so conclusive as you think it 
is. But as this is the manner in which other philosophers 
have argued on the same subject, I will take no further 
notice of it at present; I rather choose to proceed to what 
is properly your own. 

I allow that there are Gods. Instruct me, then, con 
cerning their origin ; inform me where they are, what sort 
of body, what mind, they have, and what is their course of 
life ; for these I am desirous of knowing. You attribute 
the most absolute power and efficacy to atoms. Out of 
them you pretend that everything is made. But there are 
no atoms, for there is nothing without body ; every place 
is occupied by body, therefore there can be no such thing 
as a vacuum or an atom. 

XXIV. I advance these principles of the naturalists 
without knowing whether they are true or false; yet they 
are more like truth than those statements of yours ; for 
they are the absurdities in which Democritus, or before 
him Leucippus, used to indulge, sa} T ing that there are cer 
tain light corpuscles some smooth, some rough, some 
round, some square, some crooked and bent as bows 
which by a fortuitous concourse made heaven and earth, 
without the influence of any natural power. This opinion, 
C. Velleius, you have brought down to these our times ; 
and you would sooner be deprived of the greatest advan 
tages of life than of that authority ; for before you were 
acquainted with those tenets, you thought that you ought 
to profess yourself an Epicurean ; so that it was necessa 
ry that you should cither embrace these absurdities or lose 
the philosophical character which you had taken upon you ; 
and what could bribe you to renounce the Epicurean opin 
ion? Nothing, you say, can prevail on you to forsake the 
truth and the sure means of a happy life. But is that the 
truth? for I shall not contest your happy life, which you 
think the Deity himself does not enjoy unless he languish 
es in idleness. But where is truth? Is it in your innu 
merable worlds, some of which are rising, some falling, at 
every moment of time ? Or is it in your atomical corpus- 


cles, which form such excellent works without the direc 
tion of any natural power or reason ? But I was forget 
ting my liberality, which I had promised to exert in your 
case, and exceeding the bounds which I at first proposed 
to myself. Granting, then, everything to be made of atoms, 
what advantage is that to your argument? For we are 
searching after the nature of the Gods ; and allowing them 
to be made of atoms, they cannot be eternal, because what 
ever is made of atoms must have had a beginning: if so, 
there were no Gods till there was this beginning; and if 
the Gods have had a beginning, they must necessarily have 
an end, as you have before contended when you were dis 
cussing Plato's world. Where, then, is your beatitude and 
immortality, in which two words you say that God is ex 
pressed, the endeavor to prove which reduces you to the 
greatest perplexities ? For you said that God had no 
body, but something like body ; and no blood, but some 
thing like blood. 

XXV. It is a frequent practice among you, when you 
assert anything that has no resemblance to truth, and wish 
to avoid reprehension, to advance something else which is 
absolutely and utterly impossible, in order that it may seem 
to your adversaries better to grant that point which has 
been a matter of doubt than to keep on pertinaciously con 
tradicting you on every point : like Epicurus, who, when he 
found that if his atoms were allowed to descend by their 
own weight, our actions could not be in our own power, be 
cause their motions would be certain and necessary, invent 
ed an expedient, which escaped Deraocritus, to avoid neces 
sity. He says that when the atoms descend by their own 
weight and gravity, they move a little obliquely. Surely, 
to make such an assertion as this is what one ought more 
to be ashamed of than the acknowledging ourselves unable 
to defend the proposition. His practice is the same against 
the logicians, who say that in all propositions in which yes 
or no is required, one of them must be true ; he was afraid 
that if this were granted, then, in such a proposition as 
" Epicurus will be alive or dead to-morrow," either one or 
the other must necessarily be admitted; therefore he ab 
solutely denied the necessity of yes or no. Can anything 


show stupidity in a greater degree ? Zeno, 1 being pressed 
by Arccsilas, who pronounced all tilings to be false which 
are perceived by the senses, said that some tilings were 
false, but not all. Epicurus was afraid that if any one 
thing seen should be false, nothing could be true ; and 
therefore he asserted all the senses to be infallible directors 
of truth. Nothing can be more rash than this ; for by en 
deavoring to repel alight stroke, he receives a heavy blow. 
On the subject of the nature of the Gods, he falls into the 
same errors. While he would avoid the concretion of in 
dividual bodies, lest death and dissolution should be the 
consequence, he denies that the Gods have body, but says 
they have something like body; and says they have no 
blood, but something like blood. 

XXVI. It seems an unaccountable thing how one sooth 
sayer can refrain from laughing when he sees another. It 
is yet a greater wonder that you can refrain from laughing 
among yourselves. It is no body, but something like body ! 
I could understand this if it were applied to statues made 
of wax or clay ; but in regard to the Deity, I am not able 
to discover what is meant by a quasi-body or quasi-blood. 
Nor indeed are you, Velleius, though you will not confess 
so much. For those precepts are delivered to you as dic 
tates which Epicurus carelessly blundered out; for he 
boasted, as we see in his writings, that he had no instruc 
tor, which I could easily believe without his public declara 
tion of it, for the same reason that I could believe the mas 
ter of a very bad edifice if he were to boast that he had 
no architect but himself : for there is nothing of the Acade 
my, nothing of the Lyceum, in his doctrine ; nothing but 
puerilities. He might have been a pupil of Xenocrates. 
O ye immortal Gods, what a teacher was he ! And there 
are those who believe that he actually was his pupil ; but 
he says otherwise, and I shall give more credit to his word 
than to another's. He confesses that he was a pupil of a 
certain disciple of Plato, one Pamphilus, at Samos ; for he 
lived there when he was young, with his father and his 
brothers. His father, Neoclcs, was a farmer in those parts ; 

1 Zeno here mentioned is not the same that Cotta spoke of before. 
This was the founder of the Stoics. The other was an Epicurean phi 
losopher whom lie hail heard at Athens. 


but as the farm, I suppose, was not sufficient to maintain 
him, he turned school-master; yet Epicurus treats this Pla 
tonic philosopher with wonderful contempt, so fearful was 
he that it should be thought he had ever had any instruc 
tion. But it is well known he had been a pupil of Nau- 
siphanes, the follower of Democritus; and since he could 
not deny it, he loaded him with insults in abundance. If 
he never heard a lecture on these Democritean principles, 
what lectures did he ever hear? What is there in Epi- 
curus's physics that is not taken from Democritus? For 
though he altered some things, as what I mentioned before 
of the oblique motions of the atoms, yet most of his doc 
trines are the same ; his atoms his vacuum his images 
infinity of space innumerable worlds, their rise and de 
cay and almost every part of natural learning that he 
treats of. 

Now, do you understand what is meant by quasi-body 
and quasi-blood? For I not only acknowledge that you 
are a better judge of it than I am, but I can bear it with 
out envy. If any sentiments, indeed, are communicated 
without obscurity, what is there that Velleius can under 
stand and Cotta not? I know what body is, and what 
blood is ; but I cannot possibly find out the meaning of 
quasi-body and quasi-blood. Not that you intentionally 
conceal your principles from me, as Pythagoras did his 
from those who were not his disciples ; or that you are in 
tentionally obscure, like Heraclitus. But the truth is (which 
I may venture to say in this company), you do not under 
stand them yourself. 

XXVII. This, I perceive, is what you contend for, that 
the Gods have a certain figure that has nothing concrete, 
nothing solid, nothing of express substance, nothing prom 
inent in it; but that it is pure, smooth, and transparent. 
Let us suppose the same with the Venus of Cos, which is 
not a body, but the representation of a body ; nor is the 
red, which is drawn there and mixed with the white, real 
blood, but a certain resemblance of blood ; so in Epicu- 
rus's Deity there is no real substance, but the resemblance 
of substance. 

Let me take for granted that which is perfectly unin 
telligible ; then tell me what are the lineaments and fig- 


ures of these sketched-out Deities. Here you have plenty 
of arguments by which you would show the Gods to be 
in human form. The first is, that our minds are so an 
ticipated and prepossessed, that whenever we think of a 
Deity the human shape occurs to us. The next is, that 
as the divine nature excels all things, so it ought to be of 
the most beautiful form, and there is no form more beau 
tiful than the human ; and the third is, that reason cannot 
reside in any other shape. 

First, let us consider each argument separately. You 
seem to me to assume a principle, despotically I may say, 
that has no manner of probability in it. Who was ever 
so blind, in contemplating these subjects, as not to see 
that the Gods were represented in human form, either by 
the particular advice of wise men, who thought by those 
means the more easily to turn the minds of the ignorant 
from a depravity of manners to the worship of the Gods; 
or through superstition, which was the cause of their be 
lieving that when they were paying adoration to these 
images they were approaching the Gods themselves. These 
conceits were not a little improved by the poets, painters, 
and artificers ; for it would not have been very easy to 
represent the Gods planning and executing any Avork in 
another form, and perhaps this opinion arose from the 
idea which mankind have of their own beauty. But do 
not you, who are so great an adept in physics, see what a 
soothing flatterer, what a sort of procuress, nature is to 
herself ? Do you think there is any creature on the land 
or in the sea that is not highly delighted with its own 
form ? If it were not so, why would not a bull become 
enamored of a mare, or a horse of a cow ? Do you be 
lieve an eagle, a lion, or a dolphin prefers any shape to 
its own? If nature, therefore, has instructed us in the 
same manner, that nothing is more beautiful than man, 
what wonder is it that we, for that reason, should imagine 
the Gods are of the human form? Do you suppose if 
beasts Avere endowed with reason that every one would 
not give the prize of beauty to his own species? 

XXVIII. Yet, by Hercules (I speak as I think) ! though 
I am fond enough of myself, I dare not say that I excel 
in beauty that bull which carried Europa. For the ques- 


tion here is not concerning our genius and elocution, but 
our species and figure. If we could make and assume to 
ourselves any form, would you be unwilling to resemble 
the sea-triton as he is painted supported swimming on 
sea -monsters whose bodies are partly human? Here I 
touch on a difficult point ; for so great is the force of nat 
ure that there is no man who would not choose to be 
like a man, nor, indeed, any ant that would not be like 
an ant. But like- what man ? For how few can pretend 
to beauty ! When I was at Athens, the whole flock of 
youths afforded scarcely one. You laugh, I see ; but what 
I tell you is the truth. Nay, to us who, after the exam 
ples of ancient philosophers, delight in boys, defects are 
often pleasing. Alca?us was charmed with a wart on a 
boy's knuckle ; but a wart is a blemish on the body ; yet 
it seemed a beauty to him. Q. Catulus, my friend and 
colleague's father, was enamored with your fellow-citizen 
Roscius, on whom he wrote these verses : 

As once I stood to hail the rising day, 

Roscius appearing on the left I spied : 
Forgive me, Gods, if I presume to say 

The mortal's beauty with th' immortal vied. 

Roscius more beautiful than a God ! yet he was then, as 
he now is, squint-eyed. But what signifies that, if his de 
fects were beauties to Catulus ? 

XXIX. I return to the Gods. Can we suppose any of 
them to be squint-eyed, or even to have a cast in the eye ? 
Have they any warts ? Are any of them hook-nosed, flap- 
eared, beetle-browed, or jolt-headed, as some of us are ? 
Or are they free from imperfections? Let us grant you 
that. Are they all alike in the face? For if they are 
many, then one must necessarily be more beautiful than 
another, and then there must be some Deity not absolute 
ly most beautiful. Or if their faces are all alike, there 
would be an Academy 1 in heaven; for if one God does 
not differ from another, there is no possibility of knowing 
or distinguishing them. 

What if your assertion, Velleius, proves absolutely false, 
that no form occurs to us, in our contemplations on the 

1 That is, there would be the same uncertainty in heaven as is among 
the Academics. 


Deity, but the human ? Will you, notwithstanding that, 
persist in the defence of such an absurdity ? Supposing 
that form occurs to us, as you say it does, and we know 
Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Neptune, Vulcan, Apollo, and the 
other Deities, by the countenance which painters and statu 
aries have given them, and not only by their countenances, 
but by their decorations, their age, and attire; yet the 
Egyptians, the Syrians, and almost all barbarous nations, 1 
are without such distinctions. You may see a greater re 
gard paid by them to certain beasts than by us to the most 
sacred temples and images of the Gods ; for many shrines 
have been rifled, and images of the Deities have been car 
ried from their most sacred places by us; but sve never 
heard that an Egyptian offered any violence to a croco 
dile, an ibis, or a cat. What do you think, then ? Do 
not the Egyptians esteem their sacred bull, their Apis, as 
a Deity ? Yes, by Hercules ! as certainty as you do our 
protectress Juno, whom you never behold, even in your 
dreams, without a goat-skin, a spear, a shield, and broad 
sandals. But the Grecian Juno of Argos and the Roman 
Juno are not represented in this manner ; so that the Gre 
cians, the Lanuvinians, and we, ascribe different forms to 
Juno; and our Capitoline Jupiter is not the same "with 
the Jupiter Ammon of the Africans. 

XXX. Therefore, ought not a natural philosopher that 
is, an inquirer into the secrets of nature to be ashamed 
of seeking a testimony to truth from minds prepossessed 
by custom ? According to the rule you have laid down, it 
may be said that Jupiter is always bearded, Apollo always 
beardless ; that Minerva has gray and Neptune azure eyes ; 
and, indeed, we must then honor that Vulcan at Athens, 
made by Alcamenes, whose lameness through his thin robes 
appears to be no deformity. Shall we, therefore, receive a 
lame Deity because we have such an account of him? 

Consider, likewise, that the Gods go by what names we 
give them. Now, in the first place, they have as many 
names as men have languages; for Vulcan is not called 
Vulcan in Italy, Africa, or Spain, as you are called Velle- 
ius in all countries. Besides, the Gods are innumerable, 
though the list of their names is of no great length even 
1 Those nations which were neither Greek nor Roman. 


in the records of our priests. Have they no names ? You 
must necessarily confess, indeed, they have none ; for what 
occasion is there for different names if their persons are 

How much more laudable would it be, Velleius, to ac 
knowledge that you do not know what you do not know 
than to follow a man whom you must despise ! Do you 
think the Deity is like either me or you ? You do not 
really think he is like either of us. What is to be done, 
then ? Shall I call the sun, the moon, or the sky a Deity ? 
If so, they are consequently happy. But what pleasures 
can they enjoy? And they are wise too. But how can 
wisdom reside in such shapes? These are your own prin 
ciples. Therefore, if they are not of human form, as I have 
proved, and if you cannot persuade yourself that they are 
of any other, why are you cautious of denying absolutely 
the being of any Gods ? You dare not deny it which is 
very prudent in you, though here you are not afraid of the 
people, but of the Gods themselves. I have known Epicu 
reans Avho reverence 1 even the least images of the Gods, 
though I perceive it to be the opinion of some that Epicu 
rus, through fear of offending against the Athenian laws, 
has allowed a Deity in words and destroyed him in fact ; 
so in those his select and short sentences, which are called 
by you Kvplat tJo^ai," this, I think, is the first : " That being 
which is happy and immortal is not burdened with any la 
bor, and does not impose any on any one else." 

XXXI. In his statement of this sentence, some think 
that he avoided speaking clearly on purpose, though it was 
manifestly without design. But they judge ill of a man 
who had not the least art. It is doubtful whether he means 
that there is any being happy and immortal, or that if 
there is any being happy, he must likewise be immortal. 
They do not consider that he speaks here, indeed, ambigu 
ously ; but in many other places both he and Metrodorus 
explain themselves as clearly as you have done. But he 
believed there are Gods ; nor have I ever seen any one 

1 Sigilla numerantes is the common reading ; but P. Manucius pro 
poses venerantes, which I choose as the better of the two, and in which 
sense I have translated it. 

2 Fundamental doctrines. 


who was more exceedingly afraid of what he declared 
ought to be no objects of fear, namely, death and the Gods, 
with the apprehensions of which the common rank of peo 
ple are very little affected ; but he says that the minds of 
all mortals are terrified by them. Many thousands of men 
commit robberies in the face of death; others rifle all the 
temples they can get into : such as these, no doubt, must 
be greatly terrified, the one by the fears of death, and the 
others by the fear of the Gods. 

But since you dare not (for I am now addressing my 
discourse to Epicurus himself) absolutely deny the exist 
ence of the Gods, what hinders you from ascribing a di 
vine nature to the sun, the world, or some eternal mind? 
I never, says he, saw wisdom and a rational soul in any 
but a human form. What ! did you ever observe anything 
like the sun, the moon, or the five moving planets? The 
sun, terminating his course in two extreme parts of one 
circle, 1 finishes his annual revolutions. The moon, receiving 
her light from the sun, completes the same course in the 
space of a month. 2 The five planets in the same circle, 
some nearer, others more remote from the earth, begin the 
same courses together, and finish them in different spaces 
of time. Did you ever observe anything like this, Epicu 
rus? So that, according to you, there can be neither sun, 
moon, nor stars, because nothing can exist but what we 
have touched or seen. 3 What ! have you ever seen the 
Deity himself? Why else do you believe there is any? 
If this doctrine prevails, we must reject all that history 
relates or reason discovers ; and the people who inhabit 
inland countries must not believe there is such a thing as 
the sea. This is so narrow a way of thinking that if you 
had been born in Seriphus, and never had been from out 
of that island, where you had frequently been in the habit 
of seeing little hares and, foxes, you would not, therefore, 
believe that there are such beasts as lions and panthers; 

1 That is, the zodiac. 

2 The moon, as well as the sun, is indeed in the zodiac, but she does 
not measure the same course in a month. She moves in another line of 
the zodiac nearer the earth. 

3 According to the doctrines of Epicurus, none of these bodies them 
selves arc clearly seen, but simulacra ex corporibus effluentia. 


and if any one should describe an elephant to you, you 
would think that he designed to laugh at you. 

XXXII. You indeed, Velleius, have concluded your ar 
gument, not after the manner of your own sect, but of the 
logicians, to which your people are utter strangers. You 
have taken it for granted that the Gods are happy. I al 
low it. You say that without virtue no one can be happy. 
I willingly concur with you in this also. You likewise 
say that virtue cannot reside where reason is not. That I 
must necessarily allow. You add, moreover, that reason 
cannot exist but in a human form. Who, do you think, 
will admit that? If it were true, what occasion was there 
to come so gradually to it? And to what purpose? You 
might have answered it on your own authority. I per 
ceive your gradations from happiness to virtue, and from 
virtue to reason ; but how do you come from reason to 
human form ? There, indeed, you do not descend by de 
grees, but precipitately. 

Nor can I conceive why Epicurus should rather say the 
Gods are like men than that men are like the Gods. You 
ask what is the difference ; for, say you, if this is like that, 
that is like this. I grant it; but this I assert, that .the 
Gods could not take their form from men ; for the Gods 
always existed, and never had a beginning, if they are to 
exist eternally; but men had a beginning: therefore that 
form, of which the immortal Gods are, must have had ex 
istence before mankind; consequently, the Gods should 
not be said to be of human form, but our form should be 
called divine. However, let this be as you will. I now 
inquire how this extraordinary good fortune came about; 
for you deny that reason had any share in the formation 
of things. But still, what was this extraordinary fortune ? 
Whence proceeded that happy concourse of atoms which 
gave so sudden a rise to men in the form of Gods ? Are 
we to suppose the divine seed fell from heaven upon earth, 
and that men sprung up in the likeness of their celestial 
sires? I wish you would assert it; for I should not be 
unwilling to acknowledge my relation to the Gods. But 
you say nothing like it ; no, our resemblance to the Gods, 
it seems, was by chance. Must I now seek for argu 
ments to refute this doctrine seriously? I wish I could 



as easily discover what is tvuc as I can overthrow what 
is false. 

XXXIII. You have enumerated with so ready a memory, 
and so copiously, the opinions of philosophers, from Thales 
the Milesian, concerning the nature of the Gods, that I am 
surprised to see so much learning in a Roman. But do 
you think they were all madmen who thought that a Dei 
ty could by some possibility exist without hands and feet ? 
Does not even this consideration have weight with you 
when you consider what is the use and advantage of limbs 
in men, and lead you to admit that the Gods have no need 
of them ? What necessity can there be of feet, without 
walking; or of hands, if there is nothing to be grasped? 
The same may be asked of the other parts of the body, in 
which nothing is vain, nothing useless, nothing superflu 
ous ; therefore we may infer that no art can imitate the skill 
of nature. Shall the Deity, then, have a tongue, and not 
speak teeth, palate, and jaws, though he will have no use 
for them ? Shall the members which nature has given to 
the body for the sake of generation be useless to the Deity ? 
Nor would the internal parts be less superfluous than the 
external. What comeliness is there in the heart, the lungs, 
the liver, and the rest of them, abstracted from their use? 
I mention these because you place them in the Deity on 
account of the beauty of the human form. 

Depending on these dreams, not only Epicurus, Metro- 
dorus, and Hermachus declaimed against Pythagoras, Pla 
to, and Empedocles, but that little harlot Leontium pre 
sumed to write against Theophrastus : indeed, she had a 
neat Attic style; but yet, to think of her arguing against 
Theophrastus ! So much did the garden of Epicurus 1 
abound with these liberties, and, indeed, you are always 
complaining against them. Zeno wrangled. Why need 
I mention Albutius? Nothing could be more elegant or 
humane than Pha3drus ; yet a sharp expression would dis 
gust the old man. Epicurus treated Aristotle with great 
contumely. He foully slandered Phsedo, the disciple of 
Socrates. He pelted Timocrates, the brother of his com 
panion Metrodorus, with whole volumes, because he disa 
greed with him in some trifling point of philosophy. He 
1 Epicurus taught his disciples in a garden. 


was ungrateful even to Democritus, whose follower he was ; 
and his master Nausiphanes, from whom he learned noth 
ing, had no better treatment from him. 

XXXIV. Zeno gave abusive language not only to those 
who were then living, as Apollodorus, Syllus, and the rest, 
but he called Socrates, who was the father of philosophy, 
the Attic buffoon, using the Latin word Scurra. He nev 
er called Chrysippus by any name but Chesippus. And 
you yourself a little before, when you were numbering up 
a senate, as we may call them, of philosophers, scrupled 
not to say that the most eminent men talked like foolish, 
visionary dotards. Certainly, therefore, if they have all 
erred in regard to the nature of the Gods, it is to be feared 
there are no such beings. What you deliver on that head 
are all whimsical notions, and not worthy the considera 
tion even of old women. For you do not seem to be in 
the least aware what a task you draw on yourselves, if you 
should prevail on us to grant that the same form is com 
mon to Gods and men. The Deity would then require 
the same trouble in dressing, and the same care of the 
body, that mankind does. He must walk, run, lie down, 
lean, sit, hold, speak, and discourse. You need not be told 
the consequence of making the Gods male and female. 

Therefore I cannot sufficiently wonder how this chief of 
yours came to entertain these strange opinions. But you 
constantly insist on the certainty of this tenet, that the 
Deity is both happy and immortal. Supposing he is so. 
would his happiness be less perfect if he had not two feet ? 
Or cannot that blessedness or beatitude call it which you 
will (they are both harsh terms, but we must mollify them 
by use) can it not, I say, exist in that sun, or in this 
world, or in some eternal mind that has not human shape 
or limbs? All you say against it is, that you never saw 
any happiness in the sun or the world. What, then? 
Did you ever see any world but this ? No, you will say. 
Why, therefore, do you presume to assert that there arc 
not only six hundred thousand worlds, but that they are 
innumerable? Reason tells you so. Will not reason tell 
you likewise that as, in our inquiries into the most excel 
lent nature, we find none but the divine nature can be hap 
py and eternal, so the same divine nature surpasses us in 


excellence of mind; and as in mind, so in body? Why, 
tluTefore, as we are inferior in all other respects, should 
we be equal in form? For human virtue approaches 
nearer to the divinity than human form. 

XXXV. To return to the subject I was upon. What 
can be more childish than to assert that there are no such 
creatures as are generated in the Red Sea or in India ? 
The most curious inquirer cannot arrive at the knowledge 
of all those creatures which inhabit the earth, sea, fens, and 
rivers; and shall we deny the existence of them because 
we never saw them ? Tiiat similitude whicli you are so 
very fond of is nothing to the purpose. Is not a dog like 
a wolf ? And, as Ennius says, 

The monkey, filthiest beast, how like to man! 

Yet they differ in nature. No beast has more sagacity 
than an elephant ; yet where can you find any of a larger 
size? I am speaking here of beasts. But among men, do 
we not see a disparity of manners in persons very much 
alike, and a similitude of manners in persons unlike? If 
this sort of argument were once to prevail, Velleius, ob 
serve what it would lead to. You have laid it down as 
certain that reason cannot possibly reside in any but the 
human form. Another may affirm that it can exist in none 
but a terrestrial being; in none but a being that is born, 
that grows up, and receives instruction, and that consists 
of a soul, and an infirm and perishable body ; in short, in 
none but a mortal man. But if you decline those opinions, 
why should a single form disturb you? You perceive 
that man is possessed of reason and understanding, with 
all the infirmities which I have mentioned interwoven 
with his being; abstracted from which, you nevertheless 
know God, you say, if the lineaments do but remain. 
This is not talking considerately, but at a venture ; for 
surely you did not think what an encumbrance anything 
superfluous or useless is, not only in a man, but a tree. 
How troublesome it is to have a finger too much ! And 
why so? Because neither use nor ornament requires 
more than five ; but your Deity has not only a finger more 
than he wants, but a head, a neck, shoulders, sides, a 
paunch, back, hams, hands, feet, thighs, and legs. Are 



these parts necessary to immortality? Are they condu 
cive to the existence 'of the Deity? Is the face itself of 
use? One would rather say so of the brain, the heart, 
the lights, and the liver; for these are the seats of life. 
The features of the face contribute nothing to the preser 
vation of it. 

XXXVI. You censured those who, beholding those ex 
cellent and stupendous works, the world, and its respect 
ive parts the heaven, the earth, the seas and the splen 
dor with which they are adorned ; who, contemplating the 
sun, moon, and stars ; and who, observing the maturity 
and changes of the seasons, and vicissitudes of times, in 
ferred from thence that there must be some excellent and 
eminent essence that originally made, and still moves, di 
rects, and governs them. Suppose they should mistake in 
their conjecture, yet I see what they aim at. But what is 
that great and noble work which appears to you to be the 
effect of a divine mind, and from which you conclude that 
there are Gods ? "I have," say you, " a certain informa 
tion of a Deity imprinted in my mind." Of a bearded 
Jupiter, I suppose, and a helrneted Minerva. 

But do you really imagine them to be such ? How 
much better are the notions of the ignorant vulgar, who 
not only believe the Deities have members like ours, but 
that they make use of them ; and therefore they assign 
them a bow and arrows, a spear, a shield, a trident, and 
lightning; and though they do not behold the actions of 
the Gods, yet they cannot entertain a thought of a Deity 
doing nothing. The Egyptians (so much ridiculed) held 
no beasts to be sacred, except on account of some advan 
tage which they had received from them. The ibis, a very 
large bird, with strong legs and a horny long beak, de 
stroys a great number of serpents. These birds keep 
Egypt from pestilential diseases by killing and devouring 
the flying serpents brought from the deserts of Lybia by 
the south-west wind, which prevents the mischief that 
may attend their biting while alive, or any infection when 
dead. I could speak of the advantage of the ichneumon, 
the crocodile, and the cat ; but I am unwilling to be te 
dious; yet I will conclude with observing that the barba 
rians paid divine honors to beasts because of the benefits 


they received from them; whereas your Gods not only 
confer no benefit, but are idle, and do no single act of any 
description whatever. 

XXXVII. "They have nothing to do," your teacher 
says. Epicurus truly, like indolent boys, thinks nothing 
preferable to idleness ; yet those very boys, when they 
have a holiday, entertain themselves in some sportive ex 
ercise. But we are to suppose the Deity in such an in 
active state that if he should move we may justly fear 
he would be no longer happy. This doctrine divests the 
Gods of motion and operation; besides, it encourages 
men to be lazy, as they are by this taught to believe that 
the least labor is incompatible even with divine felicity. 

But let it be as you would have it, that the Deity is 
in the form and image of a man. Where is his abode? 
Where is his habitation ? Where is the place where he is 
to be found? What is his course of life? And what is 
it that constitutes the happiness which you assert that he 
enjoys? For it seems necessary that a being who is to 
be happy must use and enjoy what belongs to him. And 
with regard to place, even those natures which are inani 
mate have each their proper stations assigned to them : so 
that the earth is the lowest ; then water is next above the 
earth ; the air is above the water ; and fire has the highest 
situation of all allotted to it. Some creatures inhabit the 
earth, some the water, and some, of an amphibious nature, 
live in both. There are some, also, which are thought to 
be born in fire, and which often appear fluttering in burn 
ing furnaces. 

In the first place, therefore, I ask you, Where is the hab 
itation of your Deity ? Secondly, What motive is it that 
stirs him from his place, supposing he ever moves ? And, 
lastly, since it is peculiar to animated beings to have an 
inclination to something that is agreeable to their several 
natures, what is it that the Deity affects, and to what pur 
pose does he exert the motion of his mind and reason ? In 
short, how is he happy? how eternal ? Whichever of these 
points you touch upon, I am afraid you will come lamely 
off. For there is never a proper end to reasoning which 
proceeds on a false foundation ; for you asserted likewise 
that the form of the Deity is perceptible by the mind, but 


not by sense ; that it is neither solid, nor invariable in num 
ber; that it is to be discerned by similitude and transi 
tion, and that a constant supply of images is perpetually 
flowing on from innumerable atoms, on which our minds 
are intent ; so that we from that conclude that divine nat 
ure to be happy and everlasting. 

XXXVIII. What, in the name of those Deities concern 
ing whom we are now disputing, is the meaning of all this ? 
For if they exist only in thought, and have no solidity nor 
substance, what difference can there be between thinking 
of a Hippocentaur and thinking of a Deity? Other phi 
losophers call every such conformation of the mind a vain 
motion ; but you term it " the approach and entrance of 
images into the mind." Thus, when I imagine that I be 
hold T. Gracchus haranguing the people in the Capitol, 
and collecting their suffrages concerning M. Octavius, I 
call that a vain motion of the mind: but you affirm that 
the images of Gracchus and Octavius are present, which 
are only conveyed to my mind when they have arrived at 
the Capitol. The case is the same, you say, in regard to 
the Deity, with the frequent representation of which the 
mind is so affected that from thence it may be clearly un 
derstood that the Gods 1 are happy and eternal. 

Let it be granted that there are images by which the 
mind is affected, yet it is only a certain form that occurs ; 
and why must that form be pronounced happy? why eter 
nal? But what are those images you talk of, or whence 
do they proceed ? This loose manner of arguing is taken 
from Democritus ; but he is reproved by many people for 
it ; nor can you derive any conclusions from it : the whole 
system is weak and imperfect. For what can be more im 
probable than that the images of Homer, Archilochus, Rom 
ulus, Numa, Pythagoras, and Plato should come into my 
mind, and yet not in the form in which they existed ? How, 
therefore, can they be those persons ? And whose images 
are they? Aristotle tells us that there never was such a 
person as Orpheus the poet ; 2 and it is said that the verse 

1 By the word Deus, as often used by our author, we arc to understand 
all the Gods in that theology then treated of, and not a single personal 

3 The best commentators on this passage ngree that Cicero does not 


called Orphic verse was the invention of Cercops^a Pythag 
orean ; yet Orpheus, that is to say, the image of him, as 
you will have it, often runs in my head. What is the rea 
son that I entertain one idea of the figure of the same per 
son, and you another? Why do we image to ourselves 
such tilings as never had any existence, and which never 
can have, such as Scyllas and Chimeras? Why do we 
frame ideas of men, countries, and cities which we never 
saw ? How is it that the very first moment that I choose 
I can form representations of them in my mind ? How is 
it that they come to me, even in my sleep, without being 
called or sought after ? 

XXXIX. The whole affair, Velleius, is ridiculous. You 
do not impose images on our eyes only, but on our minds. 
Such is the privilege which you have assumed of talking 
nonsense with impunity. But there is, you say, a transi 
tion of images flowing on in great crowds in such a way 
that out of many some one at least must be perceived ! I 
should be ashamed of my incapacity to understand this 
if you, who assert it, could comprehend it yourselves ; for 
how do you prove that these images are continued in 
uninterrupted motion? Or, if uninterrupted, still how do 
you prove them to be eternal? There is a constant sup 
ply, you say, of innumerable atoms. But must they, for 
that reason, be all eternal ? To elude this, you have re 
course to equilibration (for so, with your leave, I will call 
your 'lowop'a), 1 and say that as there is a sort of nature 
mortal, so there must also be a sort which is immortal. 
By the same rule, as there are men mortal, there are men 
immortal; and as some arise from the earth, some must 
arise from the water also ; and as there are causes which 
destroy, there must likewise be causes which preserve. Be 
it as you say ; but let those causes preserve which have ex 
istence themselves. I cannot conceive these your Gods to 
have any. But how does all this face of things arise from 
atomic corpuscles ? Were there any such atoms (as there 

mean that Aristotle affirmed that there was no such person as Orpheus, 
buf that there was no such poet, and that the verse called Orphic was 
said to he the invention of another. The passage of Aristotle to which 
Cicero here alludes has, as Dr. Davis observes, been long lost. 
1 A just proportion between the different sorts of beings. 


are not), they might perhaps impel one another, and be 
jumbled together in their motion; but they could never 
be able to impart form, or figure, or color, or animation, 
so that you by no means demonstrate the immortality of 
your Deity. 

XL. Let us now inquire into his happiness. It is cer 
tain that without virtue there can be no happiness ; but 
virtue consists in action: now your Deity does nothing; 
therefore he is void of virtue, and consequently cannot be 
happy. What sort of life does he lead ? He has a con 
stant supply, you say, of good things, without any inter 
mixture of bad. What are those good things? Sensual 
pleasures, no doubt; for you know no delight of the mind 
but what arises from the body, and returns to it. I do not 
suppose, Velleius, that you are like some of the Epicure 
ans, who are ashamed of those expressions of Epicurus, 1 
in which he openly avows that he has no idea of any good 
separate from wanton and obscene pleasures, which, with 
out a blush, he names distinctly. What food, therefore, 
what drink, what variety of music or flowers, what kind of 
pleasures of touch, what odors, will you offer to the Gods 
to fill them with pleasures? The poets indeed provide 
them with banquets of nectar and ambrosia, and a Hebe 
or a Ganymede to serve up the cup. But what is it, 
Epicurus, that you do for them? For I do not see from 
whence your Deity should have those things, nor how he 
could use them. Therefore the nature of man is better 
constituted for a happy life than the nature of the Gods, 
because men enjoy various kinds of pleasures; but you 
look on all those pleasures as superficial which delight the 
senses only by a titillation, as Epicurus calls it. Where is 
to be the end of this trifling? Even Philo, who followed 
the Academy, could not bear to hear the soft and luscious 
delights of the Epicureans despised ; for with his admira 
ble memory he pei'fectly remembered and used to repeat 
many sentences of Epicurus in the very words in which 
they were written. He likewise used to quote many, 

1 Some give quos non pudeat earum Epicuri vocum ; but the best cop 
ies have not non; nor would it be consistent with Cotta to say quos non 
pudeat, for he throughout represents Velleius as a perfect Epicurean in 
every article. 



which were more gross, from Metrodorus, the sage col 
league of Epicurus, who blamed his brother Tirnoerates 
because he would not allow that everything which had 
any reference to a happy life was to be measured by the 
belly ; nor has he said this once only, but often. You grant 
what I say, I perceive; for you know it to be true. I can 
produce the books, if you should deny it ; but I am not 
now reproving you for referring all things to the standard 
of pleasure : that is another question. What I am now 
showing is, that your Gods are destitute of pleasure; and 
therefore, according to your own manner of reasoning, 
they are not happy. 

XLI. But they are free from pain. Is that sufficient 
for beings who are supposed to enjoy all good things and 
the most supreme felicity? The Deity, they say, is con 
stantly meditating on his own happiness, for he has no 
other idea which can possibly occupy his mind. Consid 
er a little ; reflect what a figure the Deity would make if 
he were to be idly thinking of nothing through all eterni 
ty but "It is very well with me, and I am happy;" nor do 
I see why this happy Deity should not fear being destroy 
ed, since, without any intermission, he is driven and agi 
tated by an everlasting incursion of atoms, and since im 
ages are constantly floating off from him. Your Deity, 
therefore, is neither happy nor eternal. 

Epicurus, it seems, has written books concerning sanc 
tity and piety towards the Gods. But how does he speak 
on these subjects ? You would say that you were listen 
ing to Coruncanius or Scsevola, the high-priests, and not 
to a man who tore up all religion by the roots, and who 
overthrew the temples and altai's of the immortal Gods; 
not, indeed, with hands, like Xerxes, but with arguments ; 
for what reason is there for your saying that men ought 
to worship the Gods, when the Gods not only do not re 
gard men, but are entirely careless of everything, and ab 
solutely do nothing at all ? 

But they are, you say, of so glorious and excellent a 
nature that a wise man is induced by their excellence to 
adore them. Can there be any glory or excellence in that 
nature which only contemplates its own happiness, and 
neither will do, nor does, nor ever did anything ? Besides, 


what piety is due to a being from whom you receive noth 
ing? Or how can you, or any one else, be indebted to 
him who bestows no benefits? For piety is only justice 
towards the Gods ; but what right have they to it, when 
there is no communication whatever between the Gods 
and men? And sanctity is the knowledge of how we 
ought to worship them; but I do not understand why 
they are to be worshipped, if we are neither to receive 
nor expect any good from them. 

XLIL And why should we worship them from an ad 
miration only of that nature in which we can behold noth 
ing excellent ? and as for that freedom from superstition, 
which you are in the habit of boasting of so much, it is 
easy to be free from that feeling when you have re 
nounced all belief in the power of the Gods ; unless, in 
deed, you imagine that Diagoras or Theodorus, who ab 
solutely denied the being of the Gods, could possibly be 
superstitious. I do not suppose that even Protagoras 
could, who doubted whether there were Gods or not. 
The opinions of these philosophers are not only destructive 
of superstition, which arises from a vain fear of the Gods, 
but of religion also, which consists in a pious adoration 
of them. 

What think you of those who have asserted that the 
whole doctrine concerning the immortal Gods w r as the in 
vention of politicians, whose view was to govern that part 
of the community by religion which reason could not in 
fluence? Are not their opinions subversive of all relig 
ion? Or what religion did Prodicus the Chian leave to 
men, who held that everything beneficial to human life 
should be numbered among the Gods? Were not they 
likewise void of religion who taught that the Deities, at 
present the object of our prayers and adoration, were val 
iant, illustrious, and mighty men who arose to divinity 
after death ? Euhemerus, whom our Ennius translated, 
and followed more than other authors, has particularly 
advanced this doctrine, and treated of the deaths and 
burials of the Gods ; can he, then, be said to have con 
firmed religion, or, rather, to have totally subverted it? 
I shall say nothing of that sacred and august Eleusina, 
into whose mysteries the most distant nations were initi- 


ated, nor of the solemnities in Samothrace, or in Lemnos, 
secretly resorted to by night, and surrounded by thick 
and shady groves ; which, if they were properly explain 
ed, and reduced to reasonable principles, would rather ex 
plain the nature of things than discover the knowledge of 
the Gods. 

XLIII. Even that great man Democritus, from whose 
fountains Epicurus watered his little garden, seems to me 
to be very inferior to his usual acuteness when speaking 
about the nature of the Gods. For at one time he thinks 
that there are images endowed with divinity, inherent in 
the universality of things ; at another, that the principles 
and minds contained in the universe are Gods ; then he 
attributes divinity to animated images, employing them 
selves in doing us good or harm ; and, lastly, he speaks of 
certain images of such vast extent that they encompass 
the whole outside of the universe ; all which opinions are 
more worthy of the country 1 of Democritus than of De 
mocritus himself ; for who can frame in his mind any ideas 
of such images? who can admire them? who can think 
they merit a religious adoration? 

But Epicurus, when he divests the Gods of the power 
of doing good, extirpates all religion from the minds of 
men ; for though he says the divine nature is the best and 
the most excellent of all natures, he will .not allow it to 
be susceptible of any benevolence, by which he destroys 
the chief and peculiar attribute of the most perfect being. 
For what is better and more excellent than goodness and 
beneficence ? To refuse your Gods that quality is to say 
that no man is any object of their favor, and no Gods 
either; that they neither love nor esteem any one; in 
short, that they not only give themselves no trouble about 
us, but even look on each other with the greatest indif 

XLIV. How much more reasonable is the doctrine of 
the Stoics, whom you censure? It is one of their maxims 
that the wise are friends to the wise, though unknown to 
each other ; for as nothing is more amiable than virtue, he 
who possesses it is worthy our love, to whatever country 

1 His country was Abdera, the natives of which were remarkable for 
tlieiv stupidity. 


he belongs. But what evils do your principles bring, when 
you make good actions and benevolence the marks of im 
becility ! For, not to mention the power and nature of 
the Gods, you hold that even men, if they had no need of 
mutual assistance, would be neither courteous nor benefi 
cent. Is there no natural charity in the dispositions of 
good men ? The very name of love, from which friend 
ship is derived, is dear to men ;' and if friendship is to 
centre in our own advantage only, without regard to him 
whom we esteem a friend, it cannot be called friendship, 
but a sort of traffic for our own profit. Pastures, lands, 
and herds of cattle are valued in the same manner on 
account of the profit we gather from them ; but charity 
and friendship expect no return. How much more reason 
have we to think that the Gods, who want nothing, should 
love each other, and employ themselves about us ! If it 
were not so, why should we pray to or adore them ? Why 
do the priests preside over the altars, and the augurs over 
the auspices ? What have we to ask of the Gods, and why 
do we prefer our vows to them ? 

But Epicurus, you say, has written a book concerning 
sanctity. A trifling performance by a man whose wit is 
not so remarkable in it, as the unrestrained license of writ 
ing which he has permitted himself; for what sanctity can 
there be if the Gods take no care of human affairs? Or 
how can that nature be called animated which neither re 
gards nor performs anything ? Therefore our friend Pos- 
idonius has well observed, in his fifth book of the Nature 
of the Gods, that Epicurus believed there were no Gods, 
and that what he had said about the immortal Gods was 
only said from a desire to avoid unpopularity. He could 
not be so weak as to imagine that the Deity has only the 
outward features of a simple mortal, without any real so 
lidity ; that he has all the members of a man, without the 
least power to use them a certain unsubstantial pellucid 
being, neither favorable nor beneficial to any one, neither 
regarding nor doing anything. There can be no such*be- 
ing in nature ; and as Epicurus said this plainly, he allows 

1 This passage will not admit of a translation answerable to the sense 
of the original. Cicero says the word amicitia (friendship) is derived 
from amor (love or affection). 


the Gods in words, and destroys them in fact ; and if the 
Deity is truly such a being that he shows no favor, no be 
nevolence to mankind, away with him ! For why should 
I entreat him to be propitious? He can be propitiovs to 
none, since, as you say, all his favor and benevolence are 
the effects of imbecility. 


I. WHEN Cotta had thus concluded, Velleius replied : I 
certainly was inconsiderate to engage in argument with an 
Academician who is likewise a rhetorician. I should not 
have feared an Academician without eloquence, nor a 
rhetorician without that philosophy, however eloquent he 
might be; for I am never puzzled by an empty flow of 
words, nor by the most subtle reasonings delivered with 
out any grace of oratory. But you, Cotta, have excelled 
in both. You only wanted the assembly and the judges. 
However, enough of this at present. Now, let us hear 
what Lucilius has to say, if it is agreeable to him. 

I had much rather, says Balbus, hear Cotta resume his 
discourse, and demonstrate the true Gods with the same 
eloquence which he made use of to explode the false ; for, 
on such a subject, the loose, unsettled doctrine of the 
Academy does not become a philosopher, a priest, a Cot 
ta, whose opinions should be, like those we hold, firm 
and certain. Epicurus has been more than sufficiently 
refuted ; but I would willingly hear your own sentiments, 

Do you forget, replies Cotta, what I at first said that it 
is easier for me, especially on this point, to explain what 
opinions those are which I do not hold, rather than what 
those are which I do? Nay, even if I did feel some cer 
tainty on any particular point, yet, after having been so 
diffuse myself already, I would prefer now hearing you 
speak in your turn. I submit, says Balbus, and will be as 
brief as I possibly can; for as you have confuted the er 
rors of Epicurus, my part in the dispute will be the short- 


er. Our sect divide the whole question concerning the 
immortal Gods into four parts. First, they prove that 
there are Gods; secondly, of what character and nature 
they are ; thirdly, that the universe is governed by them ; 
and, lastly, that they exercise a superintendence over hu 
man affairs. But in this present discussion let us confine 
ourselves to the first two articles, and defer the third and 
fourth till another opportunity, as they require more time 
to discuss. By no means, says Cotta, for we have time 
enough on our hands ; besides that, we are now discuss 
ing a subject which should be preferred even to serious 

II. The first point, then, says Lucilius, I think needs no 
discourse to prove it ; for what can be so plain and evi 
dent, when we behold the heavens and contemplate the 
celestial bodies, as the existence of some supreme, divine 
intelligence, by which all these things are governed? 
Were it otherwise, Eunius would not, with a universal ap 
probation, have said, 

Look up to the refulgent heaven above, 
Which all men call, unanimously, Jove. 

This is Jupiter, the governor of the world, who rules all 
things with his nod, and is, as the same Ennius adds, 

of Gods and men the sire, J 

an omnipresent and omnipotent God. And if any one 
doubts this, I really do not understand why the same man 
may not also doubt whether there is a sun or not. For 
what can possibly be more evident than this ? And if it 
were not a truth universally impressed on the minds of 
men, the belief in it would never have been so firm ; nor 
would it have been, as it is, increased by length of years, 
nor would it have gathered strength and stability through 
every age. And, in truth, we see that other opinions, being 
false and groundless, have already fallen into oblivion by 
lapse of time. Who now believes in Hippocentaurs and 

1 This manner of speaking of Jupiter frequently occurs in Homer, 

iraTijp av&pZv re Bfiiov re, 

and has been used by Virgil and other poets since Ennius. 


Chimseras? Or what old woman is now to be found so 
weak and ignorant as to stand in fear of those infernal 
monsters which once so terrified mankind ? For time de 
stroys the fictions of error and opinion, while it confirms 
the determinations of nature and of truth. And therefore 
it is that, both among us and among other nations, sacred 
institutions and the divine worship of the Gods have been 
strengthened and improved from time to time. And this 
is not to be imputed to chance or folly, but to the frequent 
appearance of the Gods themselves. In the war with the 
Latins, when A. Posthumius, the dictator, attacked Octa- 
vius Mamilius, the Tusculan, at Regillus, Castor and Pol 
lux were seen fighting in our army on horseback; and 
since that the same offspring of Tyndarus gave notice of 
the defeat of Perses ; for as P. Vatienus, the grandfather 
of the present young man of that name, was coming in the 
night to Rome from his government of Reate, two young 
men on white horses appeared to him, and told him that 
King 1 Perses was that day taken prisoner. This news he 
carried to the senate, who immediately threw him into 
prison for speaking inconsiderately on a state affair; but 
when it was confirmed by letters from Paullus, he was 
recompensed by the senate with land and immunities. 2 
Nor do we forget when the Locrians defeated the people 
of Crotone, in a great battle on the banks of the river 
Sngra, that it was known the same day at the Olym 
pic Games. The voices of the Fauns have been often 
heard, and Deities have appeared in forms so visible 
that they have compelled every one who is not sense 
less, or hardened in impiety, to confess the presence of the 

III. What do predictions and foreknowledge of future 
events indicate, but that such future events are shown, 
pointed out, portended, and foretold to men? From 
whence they are called omens, signs, portents, prodigies. 
But though we should esteem fabulous what is said of 

1 Perses, or Perseus, the last king of Macedonia, was taken by 
Cnoeus Octavius, the praetor, and brought as prisoner to Paullus JKmil- 
ius, 1G7 B.C. 

a An exemption from serving in the wars, and from paying public 


Mopsus, 1 Tircsias, 2 Amphiaraus, 3 Calchas, 4 and Helenas 6 
(who would not have been delivered down to us as augurs 
even in fable if their art had been despised), may we not 
be sufficiently apprised of the power of the Gods by do 
mestic examples? Will not the temerity of P. Claudius, 
in the first Punic war, affect us? who, when the poultry 
were let out of the coop and would not feed, ordered them 
to be thrown into the water, and, joking even upon the 
Gods, said, with a sneer, "Let them drink, since they will 
not eat;" which piece of ridicule, being followed by a vic 
tory over his fleet, cost him many tears, and brought great 
calamity on the Roman people. Did not his colleague 
Junius, in the same war, lose his fleet in a tempest by 
disregarding the auspices? Claudius, therefore, was con 
demned by the people, and Junius killed himself. Coelius 
says that P. Flaminius, from his neglect of religion, fell at 
Thrasimenus; a loss which the public severely felt. By 
these instances of calamity we may be assured that Rome 
owes her grandeur and success to the conduct of those 
who were tenacious of their religious duties; and if we 
compare ourselves to our neighbors, we shall find that we 
are infinitely distinguished above foreign nations by our 
zeal for religious ceremonies, though in other things we 
may be only equal to them, and in other respects even in 
ferior to them. 

Ought we to condemn Attius Navius's staff, with which 

1 Mopsus. There were two soothsayers of this name : the first was 
one of the Lnpithac, son of Ampycus and Chloris, called also the son of 
Apollo and Hienantis ; the other a son of Apollo and Maiito, who is 
said to have founded Mallus, in Asia Minor, where his oracle existed as 
late as the time of Strabo. 

2 Tiresias was the great Theban prophet at the time of the war of the 
Seven against Thebes. 

3 Amphiaraus was King of Argos (he had been one of tle Argonauts 
also), lie was killed after the war of the Seven against Thebes, which 
he was compelled to join in by the treachery of his wife Eriphyle, by 
the earth opening and swallowing him up as he was fleeing from Feri- 

4 Calchas was the prophet of the Grecian army at the siege of Troy. 

5 Ilelenus was a son of Priam and Hecuba. He is represented as a 
prophet in the Philoctetes of Sophocles. And in the JEneid he is also 
represented as king of part of Epirus, and as predicting to JEneas the 
dangers and fortunes which awaited him. 


he divided the regions of the vine to find his sow ?' I 
should despise it, if I were not aware that King Hostilius 
had carried on most important wars in deference to his 
auguries ; but by the negligence of our nobility the disci 
pline of the augury is now omitted, the truth of the au 
spices despised, and only a mere form observed ; so that 
the most important affairs of the commonwealth, even the 
wars, on which the public safety depends, are conducted 
without any auspices; the Peremnia" are discussed; no 
part of the Acumina 3 performed ; no select men are called 
to witness to the military testaments; 4 our generals now 
begin their wars as soon as they have arranged the Au- 
spicia. The force of religion was so great among our an 
cestors that some of their commanders have, with their 
faces veiled, and with the solemn, formal expressions 
of religion, sacrificed themselves to the immortal Gods 
to save their country. 5 I could mention many of the 
Sibylline prophecies, and many answers of the harus- 
pices, to confirm those things, which ought not to be 

IV. For example : our augurs and the Etrurian harus- 
pices saw the truth of their art established when P. Scipio 
and C. Figulus were consuls ; for as Tiberius Gracchus, 
who was a second time consul, wished to proceed to a 

1 This short passage would be very obscure to the reader without an 
explanation from another of Cicero's treatises. The expression here, ad 
investigandum suem regiones viiiece terminavit, which is a metaphor too 
bold, if it was not a sort of augural language, seems to me to have been 
the effect of carelessness in our great author ; for Navius did not divide 
the regions, as he calls them, of the vine to find his sow, but to find a 

3 The Peremnia were a sort of auspices performed just before the 
passing a river. 

3 The Acumina were a military auspices, and were partly performed 
on the point of a spear, from which they were called Acumina. 

1 Those were called testamenta in procinctu, which were made by sol 
diers just before an engagement, in the presence of men called as wit 

5 This especially refers to the Decii, one of whom devoted himself for 
his country in the war with the Latins, 340 B.C., and his son imitated 
the action in the war with the Sammies, 295 B.C. Cicero (Tusc. i. 37) 
says that his son did the same thing in the war with Pyrrhus at the 
battle of Asculnm, though in other places (De Off. iii. 4) he speaks of 
only two Decii as having signalized themselves in this manner. 


fresh election, the first Rogator, 1 as he was collecting the 
suffrages, fell down dead on the spot. Gracchus never 
theless went on with the assembly, but perceiving that this 
accident had a religious influence on the people, he brought 
the affair before the senate. The senate thought fit to 
refer it to those who usually took cognizance of such 
things. The hartispices were called, and declared that the 
man who had acted as Rogator of the assembly had no 
right to do so ; to which, as I have heard my father say, 
he replied with great warmth, Have I no right, who am 
consul, and augur, and favored by the Auspicia ? And 
shall you, who are Tuscans and Bai'barians, pretend that 
you have authority over the Roman Auspicia, and a right 
to give judgment in matters respecting the formality of 
our assemblies ? Therefore, he then commanded them to 
withdraw ; but not long afterward he wrote from his prov 
ince 2 to the college of augurs, acknowledging that in read 
ing the books 3 he remembered that he had illegally chosen 
a place for his tent in the gardens of Scipio, and had 
afterward entered the Pomcerium, in order to hold a sen 
ate, but that in repassing the same Pomoerium he had 
forgotten to take the auspices; and that, therefore, the 
consuls had been created informally. The augurs laid 
the case before the senate. The senate decreed that they 
should resign their charge, and so they accordingly abdi 
cated. What greater example need we seek for? The 
wisest, perhaps the most excellent of men, chose to confess 
his fault, which he might have concealed, rather than leave 
the public the least atom of religious guilt; and the con 
suls chose to quit the highest office in the State, rather 
than fill it for a moment in defiance of religion. How 
great is the reputation of the augurs ! 

And is not the art of the soothsayers divine? And 
must not every one who sees what innumerable instances 
of the same kind there are confess the existence of the 

1 The Rogator, who collected the votes, and pronounced who was the 
person chosen. There were two sorts of Kogators; one was the officer 
here mentioned, and the other was the Rogator, or speaker of the whole 

3 Which was Sardinia, as appears from one of Cicero's epistles to his 
brother Quintus. 

3 Their sacred books of ceremonies. 


Gods? For they who have interpreters must certainly 
exist themselves; now, there are interpreters of the Gods; 
therefore we must allow there are Gods. But it may be 
said, perhaps, that all predictions are not accomplished. 
We may as well conclude there is no art of physic, because 
all sick persons do not recover. The Gods show us signs 
of future events ; if we are occasionally deceived in the 
results, it is not to be imputed to the nature of the Gods, 
but to the conjectures of men. All nations agree that 
there are Gods ; the opinion is innate, and, as it were, en 
graved in the minds of all men. The only point in dispute 
among us is, what they are. 

V. Their existence no one denies. Cleanthes, one of our 
sect, imputes the way in which the idea of the Gods is im 
planted in the minds of men to four causes. The first is 
that which I just now mentioned the foreknowledge of 
future things. The second is the great advantages which 
we enjoy from the temperature of the air, the fertility of 
the earth, and the abundance of various benefits of other 
kinds. The third cause is deduced from the terror with 
which the mind is affected by thunder, tempests, storms, 
snow, hail, devastation, pestilence, earthquakes often at 
tended with hideous noises, showers of stones, and rain 
like drops of blood ; by rocks and sudden openings of the 
earth ; by monstrous births of men and beasts ; by meteors 
in the air, and blazing stars, by the Greeks called cometce, 
by us crinitce, the appearance of which, in the late Octavian 
war, 1 were foreboders of great calamities; by two suns, 
which, as I have heard my father say, happened in the 
consulate of Tuditanus and Aquillius, and in which year 
also another sun (P. Africanus) was extinguished. These 
things terrified mankind, and raised in them a firm belief 
of the existence of some celestial and divine power. 

His fourth cause, and that the strongest, is drawn from 
the regularity of the motion and revolution of the heavens, 
the distinctness, variety, beauty, and order of the sun, moon, 
and all the stars, the appearance only of which is sufficient 
to convince us they are not the effects of chance ; as when 
we enter into a house, or school, or court, and observe the 
exact order, discipline, and method of it, we cannot sup- 
1 The war between Octavius and Cinna, the consuls. 


pose that it is so regulated without a cause, but must con 
clude that there is some one who commands, and to whom 
obedience is paid. It is quite impossible for us to avoid 
thinking that the wonderful motions, revolutions, and or 
der of those many and great bodies, no part of which is 
impaired by the countless and infinite succession of ages, 
must be governed and directed by some supreme intelli 
gent being. 

VI. Chrysippus, indeed, had a very penetrating genius ; 
yet such is the doctrine which he delivers, that he seems 
rather to have been instructed by nature than to owe it to 
any discovery of his own. "If," says he, "there is any 
thing in the universe which no human reason, ability, or 
power can make, the being who produced it must certainly 
be preferable to man. Now, celestial bodies, and all those 
things which proceed in any eternal order, cannot be 
made by man ; the being who made them is therefore pref 
erable to man. What, then, is that being but a God? 
If there be no such thing as a Deity, what is there better 
than man, since he only is possessed of reason, the most 
excellent of all things ? But it is a foolish piece of vanity 
in man to think there is nothing preferable to him. There 
is, therefore, something preferable ; consequently, there is 
certainly a God." 

When you behold a large and beautiful house, surely 
no one can persuade you it was built for mice and wea 
sels, though you do not see the master ; and would it not, 
therefore, be most manifest folly to imagine that a world 
so magnificently adorned, with such an immense variety 
of celestial bodies of such exquisite beauty, and that the 
vast sizes and magnitude of the sea and land were intend 
ed as the abode of man, and not as the mansion of the 
immortal Gods ? Do we not also plainly see this, that 
all the most elevated regions are the best, and that the 
earth is the lowest region, and is surrounded with the 
grossest air? so that as we perceive that in some cities 
and countries the capacities of men are naturally duller, 
from the thickness of the climate, so mankind in general 
are affected by the heaviness of the air which surrounds 
the earth, the grossest region of the world. 

Yet even from this inferior intelligence of man we may 


discover the existence of some intelligent agent that is 
divine, and wiser than ourselves ; for, as Socrates says in 
Xenophon, from whence had man his portion of under 
standing ? And, indeed, if any one were to push his in 
quiries about the moisture and heat which is diffused 
through the human body, and the earthy kind of solidity 
existing in our entrails, and that soul by which we breathe, 
and to ask whence we derived them, it would be plain 
that we have received one thing from the earth, another 
from liquid, another from fire, and another from that air 
which we inhale every time that we breathe. 

VII. But where did we find that which excels all these 
things I mean reason, or (if you please, in other terms) 
the mind, understanding, thought, prudence ; and from 
whence did we receive it? Shall the world be possessed 
of every other perfection, and be destitute of this one, 
which is the most important and valuable of all? But 
certainly there is nothing better, or more excellent, or 
more beautiful than the world ; and not only there is noth 
ing better, but we cannot even conceive anything superior 
to it; and if reason and wisdom are the greatest of all 
perfections, they must necessarily be a part of what we 
all allow to be the most excellent. 

Who is not compelled to admit the truth of what I as 
sert by that agreeable, uniform, and continued agreement 
of things in the universe? Could the earth at one sea 
son be adorned with flowers, at another be covered with 
snow? Or, if such a number of things regulated their 
own changes, could the approach and retreat of the sun 
in the summer and winter solstices be so regularly known 
and calculated? Could the flux and reflux of the sea and 
the height of the tides be affected by the increase or wane 
of the moon ? Could the different courses of the stars be 
preserved by the uniform movement of the whole heav 
en ? Could these things subsist, I say, in such a harmony 
of all the parts of the universe without the continued in 
fluence of a divine spirit? 

If these points are handled in a free and copious man 
ner, as I purpose to do, they will be less liable to the 
cavils of the Academics; but the narrow, confined way in 
which Zeno reasoned upon them laid them more open 


objection ; for as running streams are seldom or never 
tainted, while standing waters easily grow corrupt, so a 
fluency of expression washes away the censures of the cav 
iller, while the narrow limits of a discourse which is too 
concise is almost defenceless ; for the arguments which 
I am enlarging upon are thus briefly laid down by Zeno : 

VIII. "That which reasons is superior to that which 
does not; nothing is superior to the world; the world, 
therefore, reasons." By the same rule the world may be 
proved to be wise, happy, and eternal ; for the possession 
of all these qualities is superior to the want of them; and 
nothing is superior to the world ; the inevitable conse 
quence of which argument is, that the world, therefore, 
is a Deity. He goes on: "No part of anything void of 
sense is capable of perception; some parts of the world 
have perception ; the world, therefore, has sense." He 
proceeds, and pursues the argument closely. " Nothing," 
says he, " that is destitute itself of life and reason can gen 
erate a being possessed of life and reason ; but the world 
does generate beings possessed of life and reason; the 
world, therefore, is not itself destitute of life and reason." 

He concludes his argument in his usual manner with a 
simile : " If well-tuned pipes should spring out of the olive, 
would you have the slightest doubt that there was in the 
olive-tree itself some kind of skill and knowledge ? Or if 
the plane-tree could produce harmonious lutes, surely you 
would infer, on the same principle, that music was con 
tained in the plane-tree. Why, then, should we not believe 
the world is a living and wise being, since it produces liv 
ing and wise beings out of itself?" 

IX. But as I have been insensibly led into a length of 
discourse beyond my first design (for I said that, as the 
existence of the Gods was evident to all, there was no need 
of any long oration to prove it), I will demonstrate it by 
reasons deduced from the nature of things. For it is a 
fact that all beings which take nourishment and increase 
contain in themselves a power of natural heat, without 
which they could neither be nourished nor increase. For 
everything which is of a warm and fiery character is agi 
tated and stirred up by its own motion. But that which 
is nourished and grows is influenced by a certain regular 


and equable motion. And as long as this motion remains 
in us, so long does sense and life remain ; but the moment 
that it abates and is extinguished, we ourselves decay and 

By arguments like these, Cleanthes shows how great is 
the power of heat in all bodies. He observes that there 
is no food so gross as not to be digested in a night and 
a day ; and that even in the excrementitious parts, which 
nature rejects, there remains a heat. The veins and ar 
teries seem, by their continual quivering, to resemble tho 
agitation of fire ; and it has often been observed when the 
heart of an animal is just plucked from the body that it 
palpitates with such visible motion as to resemble the ra 
pidity of fire. Everything, therefore, that has life, wheth 
er it be animal or vegetable, owes that life to the heat in 
herent in it ; it is this nature of heat which contains in it 
self the vital power which extends throughout the whole 
world. This will appear more clearly on a more close ex 
planation of this fiery quality, which pervades all things. 

Every division, then, of the world (and I shall touch 
upon the most considerable) is sustained by heat; and 
first it may be observed in earthly substances that fire is 
produced from stones by striking or rubbing one against 
another ; that " the warm earth smokes '" when just turned 
up, and that water is drawn warm from well-springs ; and 
this is most especially the case in the winter season, be 
cause there is a great quantity of heat contained in the 
caverns of the earth ; and this becomes more dense in the 
winter, and on that account confines more closely the in 
nate heat which is discoverable in the earth. 

X. It would require a long dissertation, and many rea 
sons would require to be adduced, to show that all the 
seeds which the earth conceives, and all those which it 
contains having been generated from itself, and fixed in 
roots and trunks, derive all their origin and increase from 
the temperature and regulation of heat. And that even 
every liquor has a mixture of heat in it is plainly demon 
strated by the effusion of water ; for it would not congeal 
by cold, nor become solid, as ice or snow, and return again 

1 This, in the original, is a fragment of an old Latin verse, 
Terrain fnmarc cdlentem. 


to its natural state, if it were not that, when heat is applied 
to it, it again becomes liquefied and dissolved, and so dif 
fuses itself. Therefore, by northern and other cold winds 
it is frozen and hardened, and in turn it dissolves and melts 
again by heat. The seas likewise, we find, when agitated 
by winds, grow warm, so that from this fact we may un 
derstand that there is heat included in that vast body of 
water ; for we cannot imagine it to be external and adven 
titious heat, but such as is stirred up by agitation from the 
deep recesses of the seas ; and the same thing takes place 
with respect to our bodies, which grow warm with motion 
and exercise. 

And the very air itself, which indeed is the coldest ele 
ment, is by no means void of heat ; for there is a great 
quantity, arising from the exhalations of water, which ap 
pears to be a sort of steam occasioned by its internal heat, 
like that of boiling liquors. The fourth part of the uni 
verse is entirely fire, and is the source of the salutary and 
vital heat which is found in the rest. From hence we may 
conclude that, as all parts of the Avorld are sustained by 
heat, the world itself also has such a great length of time 
subsisted from the same cause ; and so much the more, be 
cause we ought to understand that that hot and fiery prin 
ciple is so diffused over universal nature that there is con 
tained in it a power and cause of generation and procreation, 
from which all animate beings, and all those creatures of the 
vegetable world, the roots of which are contained in the 
earth, must inevitably derive their origin and their increase. 

XL It is nature, consequently, that continues and pre 
serves the world, and that, too, a nature which is not des 
titute of sense and reason ; for in every essence that is not 
simple, but composed of several parts, there must be some 
predominant quality as, for instance, the mind in man, 
and in beasts something resembling it, from which arise all 
the appetites and desires for anything. As for trees, and 
all the vegetable produce of the earth, it is thought to be 
in their roots. I call that the predominant quality, 1 which 

1 The Latin word is principatus, which exactly corresponds with the 
Greek word here used by Cicero ; by which is to be understood the su 
perior, the most prevailing excellence in every kind and species of things 
through the universe. 



the Greeks call //yc^ovuroi/ ; which must and ought to be 
the most excellent quality, wherever it is found. That, 
therefore, in which the prevailing quality of all nature re 
sides must be the most excellent of all things, and most 
worthy of the power and pre-eminence over all things. 

Now, we see that there is nothing in being that is not 
a part of the universe ; and as there are sense and reason 
in the parts of it, there must therefore be these qualities, 
and these, too, in a more energetic and powerful degree, in 
that part in which the predominant quality of the world is 
found. The world, therefore, must necessarily be possessed 
of wisdom ; and that element, which embraces all things, 
must excel in perfectum of reason. The world, therefore, 
is a God, and the whole power of the world is contained in 
that divine element. 

The heat also of the world is more pure, clear, and live 
ly, and, consequently, better adapted to move the senses 
than the heat allotted to us ; and it vivifies and preserves 
all things within the compass of our knowledge. 

It is absurd, therefore, to say that the world, which is 
endued with a perfect, free, pure, spirituous, and active 
heat, is not sensitive, since by this heat men and beasts are 
preserved, and move, and think ; more especially since this 
heat of the world is itself the sole principle of agitation, 
and has no external impulse, but is moved spontaneous 
ly ; for what can be more powerful than the world, which 
moves and raises that heat by which it subsists ? 

XII. For let us listen to Plato, who is regarded as a God 
among philosophers. He says that there are two sorts of 
motion, one innate and the other external ; and that that 
which is moved spontaneously is more divine than that 
which is moved by another power. This self-motion he 
places in the mind alone, and concludes that the first prin 
ciple of motion is derived from the mind. Therefore, 
since all motion arises from the heat of the world, and 
that heat is not moved by the effect of any external im 
pulse, but of its own accord, it must necessarily be a mind ; 
from whence it follows that the world is animated. 

On such reasoning is founded this opinion, that the 
world is possessed of understanding, because it certainly 
has more perfections in itself than any other nature; for 


as there is no part of our bodies so considerable as the 
whole of us, so it is clear that there is no particular por 
tion of the universe equal in magnitude to the whole of it; 
from whence it follows that wisdom must be an attribute 
of the world ; otherwise man, who is a part of it, and pos-, 
sessed of reason, would be superior to the entire world. 

And thus, if we proceed from the first rude, unfinished 
natures to the most superior and perfect ones, we shall in 
evitably come at last to the nature of the Gods. For, in 
the first place, we observe that those vegetables which are 
produced out of the earth are supported by nature, and 
she gives them no further supply than is sufficient to pre 
serve them by nourishing them and making them grow. 
To beasts she has given sense and motion, and a faculty 
which directs them to what is wholesome, and prompts 
them to shun what is noxious to them. On man she has 
conferred a greater portion of her favor ; inasmuch as she 
has added reason, by which he is enabled to command his 
passions, to moderate some, and to subdue others. 

XIII. In the fourth and highest degree are those beings 
which are naturally wise and good, who from the first mo 
ment of their existence are possessed of right and consist 
ent reason, which we must consider superior to man and 
deserving to be attributed to a God ; that is to say, to the 
world, in which it is inevitable that that perfect and com 
plete reason should be inherent. Nor is it possible that it 
should be said with justice that there is any arrangement 
of things in which there cannot be something entire and 
perfect. For as in a vine or in beasts we see that nature, 
if not prevented by some superior violence, proceeds by 
her own appropriate path to her destined end ; and as in 
painting, architecture, and the other arts there is a point 
of perfection which is attainable, and occasionally attained, 
so it is even much more necessary that in universal nature 
there must be some complete and perfect result arrived at. 
Many external accidents may happen to all other natures 
which may impede their progress to perfection, but noth 
ing can hinder universal nature, because she is herself the 
ruler and governor of all other natures. That, therefore, 
must be the fourth and most elevated degree to which no 
other power can approach. 


But this degree is that on which the nature of all things 
is placed ; and since she is possessed of this, and she pre 
sides over all things, and is subject to no possible impedi 
ment, the world must necessarily be an intelligent and 
even a wise being. But how marvellously great is the ig 
norance of those men who dispute the perfection of that 
nature which encircles all things ; or who, allowing it to 
be infinitely perfect, yet deny it to be, in the first place, 
animated, then reasonable, and, lastly, prudent and wise ! 
For how without these qualities could it be infinitely per 
fect? If it were like vegetables, or even like beasts, there 
would be no more reason for thinking it extremely good 
than extremely bad ; and if it were possessed of reason, 
and had not wisdom from the beginning, the world would 
be in a worse condition than man ; for man may grow 
wise, but the world, if it were destitute of wisdom through 
an infinite space of time past, could never acquire it. Thus 
it would be worse than man. But as that is absurd to im 
agine, the world must be esteemed wise from all eternity, 
and consequently a Deity : since there is nothing exist 
ing that is not defective, except the universe, which is well 
provided, and fully complete and perfect in all its num 
bers and parts. 

XIV. For Chrysippus says, very acutely, that as the case 
is made for the buckler, and the scabbard for the sword, 
so all things, except the universe, were made for the sake of 
something else. As, for instance, all those crops and fruits 
which the earth produces were made for the sake of ani 
mals, and animals for man ; as, the horse for carrying, the 
ox for the plough, the dog for hunting and for a guard. 
But man himself was born to contemplate and imitate the 
world, being in no wise perfect, but, if I may so express 
myself, a particle of perfection ; but the world, as it com 
prehends all, and as nothing exists that is not contained in 
it, is entirely perfect. In what, therefore, can it be defec 
tive, since it is perfect ? It cannot want understanding and 
reason, for they are the most desirable of all qualities. The 
sajne Chrysippus observes also, by the use of similitudes, 
thnt everything in its kind, when arrived at maturity and 
perfection, is superior to that which is not as, a horse to 
a colt, a dog to a puppy, and a man to a boy so \vh:;U>v(.T 


is best in the whole universe must exist in some complete 
and perfect being. But nothing is more perfect than the 
world, and nothing better than virtue. Virtue, therefore, 
is an attribute of the world. But human nature is not 
perfect, and nevertheless virtue is produced in it: with 
how much greater reason, then, do we conceive it to be in 
herent in the world ! Therefore the world has virtue, and 
it is also wise, and consequently a Deity. 

XV. The divinity of the world being now clearly per 
ceived, we must acknowledge the same divinity to be like 
wise in the stars, which are formed from the lightest and 
purest part of the ether, without a mixture of any other 
matter; and, being altogether hot and transparent, we may 
justly say they have life, sense, and understanding. And 
Cleanthes thinks that it may be established by the evi 
dence of two of our senses feeling and seeing that they 
are entirely fiery bodies ; for the heat and brightness of 
the sun far exceed any other fire, inasmuch as it enlightens 
the whole universe, covering such a vast extent of space, 
and its power is such that we perceive that it not only 
warms, but often even burns : neither of which it could do 
if it were not of a fiery quality. Since, then, says he, the 
sun is a fiery body, and is nourished by the vapors of the 
ocean (for no fire can continue without some sustenance), 
it must be either like that fire which we use to warm us 
and dress our food, or like that which is contained in the 
bodies of animals. 

And this fire, which the convenience of life requires, is 
the devourer and consumer of everything, and throws into 
confusion and destroys whatever it reaches. On the con 
trary, the corporeal heat is full of life, and salutary ; and 
vivifies, preserves, cherishes, increases, and sustains all 
things, and is productive of sense ; therefore, says he, there 
can be no doubt which of these fires the sun is like, since 
it causes all things in their respective kinds to flourish and 
arrive to maturity ; and as the fire of the sun is like that 
which is contained in the bodies of animated beings, the 
sun itself must likewise be animated, and so must the oth 
er stars also, which arise out of the celestial ardor that we 
call the sky, or firmament. 

As, then, some animals are generated in the earth, some 


in the water, and some in the air, Aristotle 1 thinks it ridic 
ulous to imagine that no animal is formed in that part of 
the universe which is the most capable to produce them. 
But the stars are situated in the ethereal space; and as 
this is an element the most subtle, whose motion is contin 
ual, and whose force does not decay, it follows, of necessity, 
that every animated being which is produced in it must be 
endowed with the quickest sense and the swiftest motion. 
The stars, therefore, being thei-e generated, it is a natu 
ral inference to suppose them endued with such a degree 
of sense and understanding as places them in the rank of 

XVI. For it may be observed that they who inhabit 
countries of a pure, clear air have a quicker apprehension 
and a readier genius than those who live in a thick, foggy 
climate. It is thought likewise that the nature of a man's 
diet has an effect on the mind; therefore it is probable 
that the stars are possessed of an excellent understanding, 
inasmuch as they are situated in the ethereal part of the 
universe, and are nourished by the vapors of the earth and 
sea, which are purified by their long passage to the heav 
ens. But the invariable order and regular motion of the 
stars plainly manifest their sense and understanding; for 
all motion which seems to be conducted with reason and 
harmony supposes an intelligent principle, that docs not 
act blindly, or inconsistently, or at random. And this reg 
ularity and consistent course of the stars from all eterni 
ty indicates not any natural order, for it is pregnant with 
sound reason, not fortune (for fortune, being a friend to 
change, despises consistency). It follows, therefore, that 
they move spontaneously by their own sense and divinity. 

Aristotle also deserves high commendation for his ob 
servation that everything that moves is either put in mo 
tion by natural impulse, or by some external force, or of 
its own accord ; and that the sun, and moon, and all the 
stars move; but that those things which are moved by 
natural impulse are either borne downward by their 
weight, or upward by their lightness; neither of which 
things could be the case with the stars, because they move 
in a regular circle and orbit. Nor can it be said that 
1 The passage of Aristotle to which Cicero here refers is lost. 


there is some superior force which causes the stars to be 
moved in a manner contrary to nature. For what supe 
rior force can there be? It follows, therefore, that their 
motion must be voluntary. And whoever is convinced of 
this must discover not only great ignorance, but great im 
piety likewise, if he denies the existence of the Gods ; nor 
is the difference great whether a man denies their exist 
ence, or deprives them of all design and action ; for what 
ever is wholly inactive seems to me not to exist at all. 
Their existence, therefore, appears so plain that I can 
scarcely think that man in his senses who denies it. 

XVII. It now remains that we consider what is the 
character of the Gods. Nothing is more difficult than to 
divert our thoughts and judgment from the information 
of our corporeal sight, and the view of objects which our 
eyes are accustomed to ; and it is this difficulty which has 
had such an influence on the unlearned, and on philoso 
phers 1 also who resembled the unlearned multitude, that 
they have been unable to form any idea of the immortal 
Gods except under the clothing of the human figure ; the 
weakness of which opinion Cotta has so well confuted that 
I need not add my thoughts upon it. But as the previous 
idea which we have of the Deity comprehends two things 
first of all, that he is an animated being; secondly, that 
there is nothing in all nature superior to him I do not 
see what can be more consistent with this idea and pre 
conception than to attribute a mind and divinity to the 
world, 1 the most excellent of all beings. 

Epicurus may be as merry with this notion as he pleases ; 
a man not the best qualified for a joker, as not having the 
wit and sense of his country. 3 Let him say that a voluble 
round Deity is to him incomprehensible ; yet he shall nev 
er dissuade me from a principle which he himself approves, 
for he is of opinion there are Gods when he allows that 
there must be a nature excellently perfect. But it is cer- 

1 He means the Epicureans. 

a Here the Stoic speaks too plain to be misunderstood. His world, 
his mundus, is the universe, and that universe is his great Deity, in quo 
sit totius naturae, principatus, in which the superior excellence of univer 
sal nature consists. 

3 Athens, the ser.t of learning and politeness, of which Balbus will not 
allow Epicurus to be worthy. 


tain that the world is most excellently perfect: nor is it to 
be doubted that whatever has life, sense, reason, and under 
standing must excel that which is destitute of these things. 
It follows, then, that the world has life, sense, reason, and 
understanding, and is consequently a Deity. But this 
shall soon be made more manifest by the operation of these 
very things which the world causes. 

XVIII. In the mean while, Velleius, let me entreat you 
not to be always saying that we are utterly destitute of 
every sort of learning. The cone, you say, the cylinder, 
and the pyramid, are more beautiful to you than the 
sphere. This is to have different eyes from other men. 
But suppose they are more beautiful to the sight only, which 
does not appear to me, for I can see nothing more beau 
tiful than that figure which contains all others, and which 
has nothing rough in it, nothing offensive, nothing cut into 
angles, nothing broken, nothing swelling, and nothing hol 
low ; yet as there are two forms most esteemed, 1 the globe 
in solids (for so the Greek word <r^a7pa, I think, should 
be construed), and the circle, or orb, in planes (in Greek, 
KUK\OC) ; and as they only have an exact similitude of 
parts in which every extreme is equally distant from the 
centre, what can we imagine in nature to be more just and 
proper? But if you have never raked into this learned 
dust" to find out these things, surely, at all events, you 
natural philosophers must know that equality of motion 
and invariable order could not be preserved in any other 
figure. Nothing, therefore, can be more illiterate than to 
assert, as you are in the habit of doing, that it is doubtful 
whether the world is round or not, because it may possi 
bly be of another shape, and that there are innumerable 
worlds of different forms ; which Epicurus, if he ever had 
learned that two and two are equal to four, would not 
have said. But while he judges of what is best by his 
palate, he does not look up to the " palace of heaven," as 
Ennius calls it. 

XIX. For as there are two sorts of stars, 3 one kind of 

1 This is Pythagoras's doctrine, as appears in Diogenes Laertius. 

8 He here alludes to mathematical and geometrical instruments. 

9 Balbus here speaks of the fixed stars, and of the motions of the 
orbs of the planets. He here alludes, says M. Bouhier, to the differ- 


which measure their journey from east to west by immu 
table stages, never in the least varying from their usual 
course, while the other completes a double revolution with 
an equally constant regularity ; from each of these facts 
we demonstrate the volubility of the world (which could 
not possibly take place in any but a globular form) and 
the circular orbits of the stars. And first of all the sun, 
which has the chief rank among all the stars, is moved in 
such a manner that it fills the whole earth with its light, 
and illuminates alternately one part of the earth, while it 
leaves the other in darkness. The shadow of the earth 
interposing causes night; and the intervals of night are 
equal to those of day. And it is the regular approaches 
and retreats of the sun from which arise the regulated 
degrees of cold and heat. His annual circuit is in three 
hundred and sixty-five days, and nearly six hours more. 1 
At one time he bends his course to the north, at another 
to the south, and thus produces summer and winter, with 
the other two seasons, one of which succeeds the decline 
of winter, and the other that of summer. And so to these 
four changes of the seasons we attribute the origin and 
cause of all the productions both of sea and land. 

The moon completes the same course every month 
which the sun does in a year. The nearer she approaches 
to the sun, the dimmer light does she yield, and when 
most remote from it she shines with the fullest brilliancy ; 
nor are her figure and form only changed in her wane, but 
her situation likewise, which is sometimes in the north 
and sometimes in the south. By this course she has a 
sort of summer and winter solstices ; and by her influence 
she contributes to the nourishment and increase of ani- 

ent and diurnal motions of these stars ; one sort from east to west, the 
other from one tropic to the other : and this is the construction which 
our learned and great geometrician and astronomer, Dr. Halley, made 
of this passage. 

1 This mensuration of the year into three hundred and sixty-five days 
and near six hours ("by the odd hours and minutes of which, in every 
fifth year, the dies intercalaris, or leap-year, is made) could not but be 
known, Dr. Halley states, by Hipparchus, as appears from the remains 
of that great astronomer of the ancients. We are inclined to think that 
Julius Caesar had divided the year, according to what we call the Julian 
year, before Cicero wrote this book; for we see, in the beginning of it, 
liow pathetically lie speaks of Caesar's usurpation. 



mated beings, and to the ripeness and maturity of all veg 

XX. But most worthy our admiration is the motion of 
those five stars which are falsely called wandering stars ; 
for they cannot be said to wander which keep from all 
eternity their approaches and retreats, and have all the 
rest of their motions, in one regular constant and estab 
lished order. What is yet more wonderful in these stars 
which we are speaking of is that sometimes they appear, 
and sometimes they disappear; sometimes they advance 
towards the sun, and sometimes they retreat ; sometimes 
they precede him, and sometimes follow him; sometimes 
they move faster, sometimes slower, and sometimes they 
do not stir in the least, but for a while stand still. From 
these unequal motions of the planets, mathematicians have 
called that the " great year '" in which the sun, moon, and 
five wandering stars, having finished their revolutions, are 
found in their original situation. In how long a time this 
is effected is much disputed, but it must be a certain and 
definite period. For the planet Saturn (called by the 
Greeks fouVop), which is farthest from the earth, finishes 
his course in about thirty years ; and in his course there 
is something very singular, for sometimes he moves be 
fore the sun, sometimes he keeps behind it; at one time 
lying hidden in the night, at another again appearing in 
the morning ; and ever performing the same motions in the 
same space of time without any alteration, so as to be for 
infinite ages regular in these courses. " Beneath this plan 
et, and nearer the earth, is Jupiter, called Qaeduv, which 
passes the same orbit of the twelve signs 4 in twelve years, 
and goes through exactly the same variety in its course 
that the star of Saturn does. Next to Jupiter is the 
planet Mars (in Greek, Uvpoeig), which finishes its revolu 
tion through the same orbit as the two previously men 
tioned, 3 in twenty -four months, wanting six days, as I 

1 The words of Censorinus, on this occasion, are to the same effect. 
The opinions of philosophers concerning this great year are very differ 
ent ; but the institution of it is ascribed to Democritus. 

" The zodiac. 

3 Though Mars is said to hold his orbit in the zodiac with the rest, 
and to finish his revolution through the same orbit (that is, the zodiac) 
with the other two, yet Balbus means in a different line of the zodiac. 


imagine. Below this is Mercury (called by the Greeks 
SrtX/3wv), which performs the same course in little less 
than a year, and is never farther distant from the sun 
than the space of one sign, whether it precedes or follows 
it. The lowest of the five planets, and nearest the earth, 
is that of Venus (called in Greek <frwo^opoe). Before the 
rising of the sun, it is called the morning-star, and after 
the setting, the evening-star. It has the same revolution 
through the zodiac, both as to latitude and longitude, with 
the other planets, in a year, and never is more than two 1 
signs from the sun, whether it precedes or follows it. 

XXI. I cannot, therefore, conceive that this constant 
course of the* planets, this just agreement in such various 
motions through all eternity, can be preserved without a 
mind, reason, and consideration ; and since we may per 
ceive these qualities in the stars, we cannot but place them 
in the rank of Gods. Those which are called the fixed 
stars have the same indications of reason and prudence. 
Their motion is daily, regular, and constant. They do not 
move with the sky, nor have they an adhesion to the fir 
mament, as they who are ignorant of natural philosophy 
affirm. For the sky, which is thin, transparent, and suf 
fused with an equal heat, does not seem by its nature to 
have power to whirl about the stars, or to be proper to 
contain them. The fixed stars, therefore, have their own 
sphere, separate and free from any conjunction with the 
sky. Their perpetual courses, with that admirable and 
incredible regularity of theirs, so plainly declare a divine 
power and mind to be in them, that he who cannot per 
ceive that they are also endowed with divine power must 
be incapable of all perception whatever. 

In the heavens, therefore, there is nothing fortuitous, 
unadvised, inconstant, or variable : all there is order, 
truth, reason, and constancy ; and all the things which ai'e 
destitute of these qualities are counterfeit, deceitful, and 
erroneous, and have their residence about the earth" be 
neath the moon, the lowest of all the planets. He, there- 

1 According to late observations, it never goes but a sign and a half 
from the sun. 

a These, Dr. Davis says, are "aerial fires;" concerning which he re 
fers to the second book of Pliny. 


fore, who believes that this admirable order and almost 
incredible regularity of the heavenly bodies, by which the 
preservation and entire safety of all things is secured, is 
destitute of intelligence, must be considered to be himself 
wholly destitute of all intellect whatever. 

I think, then, I shall not deceive myself in maintaining 
this dispute upon the principle of Zeno, who went the 
farthest in his search after truth. 

XXII. Zeno, then, defines nature to be " an artificial 
fire, proceeding in a regular way to generation ;" for he 
thinks that to create and beget are especial properties of 
art, and that whatever may be wrought by the hands of 
our artificers is much more skilfully performed by nature, 
that is, by this artificial fire, which is the master of all 
other arts. 

According to this manner of reasoning, every particu 
lar nature is artificial, as it operates agreeably to a certain 
method peculiar to itself ; but that universal nature which 
embraces all things is said by Zeno to be not only artifi 
cial, but absolutely the artificer, ever thinking and provid 
ing all things useful and proper; and as every particular 
nature owes its rise and increase to its own proper seed, 
so universal nature has all her motions voluntary, has af 
fections and desires (by the Greeks called bpfiag) produc 
tive of actions agreeable to them, like us, who have sense 
and understanding to direct us. Such, then, is the intel 
ligence of the universe ; for which reason it may be prop 
erly termed prudence or providence (in Greek, irpovoia), 
since her chiefest care and employment is to provide all 
things fit for its duration, that it may want nothing, and, 
above all, that it may be adorned with all perfection of 
beauty and ornament. 

XXIII. Thus far have I spoken concerning the universe, 
and also of the stars ; from whence it is apparent that 
there is almost an infinite number of Gods, always in ac 
tion, but without labor or fatigue ; for they are not com 
posed of veins, nerves, and bones ; their food and drink 
are not such as cause humors too gross or too subtle ; nor 
are their bodies such as to be subject to the fear of falls 
or blows, or in danger of diseases from a weariness of 
limbs. Epicurus, to secure his Gods from such accidents, 


has made them only outlines of Deities, void of action ; 
but our Gods being of the most beautiful form, and situ 
ated in the purest region of the heavens, dispose and rule 
their course in such a manner that they seem to contribute 
to the support and preservation of all things. 

Besides these, there are many other natures which have 
with reason been deified by the wisest Grecians, and by 
our ancestors, in consideration of the benefits derived from 
them; for they were persuaded that whatever was of 
great utility to human kind must proceed from divine 
goodness, and the name of the Deity was applied to that 
which the Deity produced, as when we call corn Ceres, 
and wine Bacchus ; whence that saying of Terence, 1 

Without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus starves. 

And any quality, also, in which there was any singular vir 
tue was nominated a Deity, such as Faith and Wisdom, 
which are placed among the divinities in the Capitol ; the 
last by ^Emilius Scaurus, but Faith was consecrated before 
by Atilius Calatinus. You see the temple of Virtue and 
that of Honor repaired by M. Marcellus, erected former 
ly, in the Ligurian war, by Q. Maximus. Need I mention 
those dedicated to Help, Safety, Concord, Liberty, and 
Victory, which have been called Deities, because their ef 
ficacy has been so great that it could not have proceeded 
from any but from some divine power? In like manner 
are the names of Cupid, Voluptas, and of Lubentine Venus 
consecrated, though they were things vicious and not nat 
ural, whatever Velleius may think to the contrary, for 
they frequently stimulate nature in too violent a manner. 
Everything, then, from which any great utility proceeded 
was deified ; and, indeed, the names I have just now 
mentioned are declaratory of the particular virtue of each 

XXIV. It has been a general custom likewise, that men 
who have done important service to the public should be 
exalted to heaven by fame and universal consent. Thus 
Hercules, Castor and Pollux, ^Esculapius, and Liber be 
came Gods (I mean Liber* the son of Semele, and not 
him 8 whom our ancestors consecrated in such state and 

1 In the Eunuch of Terence. a Bacchus. ' The son of Ceres. 


solemnity with Ceres and Libera ; the difference in which 
may be seen in our Mysteries. 1 But because the offsprings 
of our bodies are called "Liberi" (children), therefore the 
offsprings of Ceres are called Liber and Libera (Libera 3 
is the feminine, and Liber the masculine) ; thus likewise 
Romulus, or Quirinus for they are thought to be the 
same became a God. 

They are justly esteemed as Deities, since their souls 
subsist and enjoy eternity, from whence they are perfect 
and immortal beings. 

There is another reason, too, and that founded on natu 
ral philosophy, which has greatly contributed to the num 
ber of Deities ; namely, the custom of representing in hu 
man form a crowd of Gods who have supplied the poets 
with fables, and filled mankind with all sorts of supersti 
tion. Zeno has treated of this subject, but it has been dis 
cussed more at length by Cleanthes and Chrysippus. All 
Greece was of opinion that Ccelum was castrated by his 
son Saturn, 3 and that Saturn was chained by his son Jupi 
ter. In these impious fables, a physical and not inelegant 
meaning is contained ; for they would denote that the ce 
lestial, most exalted, and ethereal nature that is, the fiery 
nature, which produces all things by itself is destitute of 
that part of the body which is necessary for the act of 
generation by conjunction with another. 

XXV. By Saturn they mean that which comprehends 
the course and revolution of times and seasons ; the Greek 
name for which Deity implies as much, for he is called 

1 The books of Ceremonies. 

2 This Libera is taken for Proserpine, who, with her brother Liber, 
was consecrated by the Romans ; all which are parts of nature in pro 
sopopoeias. Cicero, therefore, makes Balbus distinguish between the 
person Liber, or Bacchus, and the Liber which is a part of nature in 

3 These allegorical fables are largely related by Hesiod in his The- 

Horace says exactly the same thing : 

Hac arte Pollux et vagus Hercules 
Enisus arccs attigit igueas : 
Qnos inter Augustus recnmbens 

Purpnreo bibit ore nectar. 
H&c te merentem, Bacche pater, tuae 
Vexere tigres iudocili jugura 
Collo ferentes : hac Quirinus 
Martis eqnis Acheronta fugit. Hor. iii. 3. 9. 


which is the same with Xpdyoc, that is, a " space of 
time." But he is called Saturn, because he is filled (sa- 
turatur) with years ; and he is usually feigned to have de 
voured his children, because time, ever insatiable, consumes 
the rolling years; but to restrain him from immoderate 
haste, Jupiter has confined him to the course of the stars, 
which are as chains to him. Jupiter (that is, juvans pater) 
signifies a " helping father," whom, by changing the cases, 
we call Jove, 1 a juvando. The poets call him " father of 
Gods and men;" 2 and our ancestors "the most good, the 
most great ;" and as there is something more glorious in 
itself, and more agreeable to others, to be good (that is, 
beneficent) than to be great, the title of " most good " pre 
cedes that of " most great." This, then, is he whom En- 
nius means in the following passage, before quoted 

Look up to the refulgent heaven above, 
Which all men call, unanimously, Jove: 

which is more plainly expressed than in this other pas 
sage 3 of the same poet 

On whose account I'll curse that flood of light, 
Whate'er it is above that shines so bright. 

Our augurs also mean the same, when, for the "thunder 
ing and lightning heaven," they say the " thundering and 
lightning Jove." Euripides, among many excellent things, 
has this : 

The vast, expanded, boundless sky behold, 
See it with soft embrace the earth enfold ; 
This own the chief of Deities above, 
And this acknowledge by the name of Jove. 

XXVI. The air, according to the Stoics, which is be 
tween the sea and the heaven, is consecrated by the name 
of Juno, and is called the sister and wife of Jove, because 

1 Cicero means by conversis casibus, varying the cases from the com 
mon rule of declension ; that is, by departing from the true grammatical 
rules of speech ; for if we would keep to it, we should decline the word 
Jupiter, Jupiteris in the second case, etc. 

a Pater divumque hominumque. 

3 The common reading is, planiusque alio loco idem ; which, as Dr. 
Davis observes, is absurd ; therefore, in his note, he prefers planius quam 
alio loco idem, from two copies, in which sense I have translated it. 


it resembles the sky, and is in close conjunction with it. 
They have made it feminine, because there is nothing 
softer. But I believe it is called Juno, a juvando (from 

To make three separate kingdoms, by fable, there re 
mained yet the water and the earth. The dominion of the 
sea is given, therefore, to Neptune, a brother, as he is called, 
of Jove ; whose name, Neptunus as fort units, a portu, 
from a port is derived a nando (from swimming), the first 
letters being a little changed. The sovereignty and power 
over the earth is the portion of a God, to whom we, as well 
as the Greeks, have given a name that denotes riches (in 
Latin, Dis; in Greek, nXovTwv), because all things arise from 
the earth and return to it. lie forced away Proserpine (in 
Greek called UepcrKpoyrj}, by which the poets mean the " seed 
of corn," from whence comes their fiction of Ceres, the 
mother of Proserpine, seeking for her daughter, who was 
hidden from her. She is called Ceres, which is the same 
as Geres a gerendis frugibus 1 " from bearing fruit," the 
first letter of the word being altered after the manner of 
the Greeks, for by them she is called Ajjp/r^p, the same as 
rr)/jn'iTrip* Again, he (qui magna vorteret) " who brings 
about mighty changes" is called Mayors; and Minerva is 
so called because (minueret, or minaretur) she diminishes 
or menaces. 

XXVII. And as the beginnings and endings of all things 
are of the greatest importance, therefore they would have 
their sacrifices to begin with Janus. 3 His name is derived 
ab eundo, from passing ; from whence thorough passages 
are called Jam, and the outward doors of common houses 
are called januce. The name of Vesta is, from the Greeks, 
the same with their 'Eor/a. Her province is over altars 
and hearths ; and in the name of this Goddess, who is the 
keeper of all things within, prayers and sacrifices are con 
cluded. The Dii Penates, " household Gods," have some 
affinity with this power, and are so called cither from pe- 

1 From the verb gero, to bear. 

2 That is, "mother earth." 

3 Janus is said to be the first who erected temples in Italy, and insti 
tuted religious rites, and from whom the first month in the Roman cal 
endar is derived. 


nus, " all kind of human provisions," or because penitus 
insident (they reside within), from which, by the poets, 
they are called penetrales also. Apollo, a Greek name, is 
called /Sol, the sun ; and Diana, Luna, the moon. The sun 
(sol) is so named either because he is solus (alone), so emi 
nent above all the stars ; or because he obscures all the 
stars, and appears alone as soon as he rises. Luna, the 
moon, is so called a lucendo (from shining) ; she bears the 
name also of Lucina : and as in Greece the women in labor 
invoke Diana Lucifera, so here they invoke Juno Lucina. 
She is likewise called Diana omnivaga, not a venando 
(from hunting), but because she is reckoned one of the 
seven stars that seem to wander. 1 She is called Diana 
because she makes a kind of day of the night; 8 and pre 
sides over births, because the delivery is effected some 
times in seven, or at most in nine, courses of the moon ; 
which, because they make mensa spatia (measured spaces), 
are called menses (months). This occasioned a pleasant 
observation of Timseus (as he has many). Having said in 
his history that " the same night in which Alexander was 
born, the temple of Diana at Ephesus was burned down," 
he adds, " It is not in the least to be wondered at, because 
Diana, being willing to assist at the labor of Olympias, 3 
was absent from home." But to this Goddess, because ad 
res omnes veniret " she has an influence upon all things " 
we have given the appellation of Venus, 4 from whom the 
word venustas (beauty) is rather derived than Venus from 

XXVIII. Do you not see, therefore, how, from the pro 
ductions of nature and the useful inventions of men, have 
arisen fictitious and imaginary Deities, which have been 
the foundation of false opinions, pernicious errors, and 
wretched superstitions ? For we know how the different 
forms of the Gods their ages, apparel, ornaments ; their 

1 Stellce vagantes. 

a Noctu quasi diem efficeret. Ben Jonson says the same thing : 
Thou that mak'st a clay of night, 
Goddess excelleutly bright. Ode to the Moon. 

3 Olympias was the mother of Alexander. 

4 Venus is here said to be one of the names of Diana, hecause ad re* 
omnes veniret ; hut she is not supposed to be the same as the mother of 


pedigrees, marriages, relations, and everything belonging 
to them are adapted to human weakness and represented 
with our passions ; with lust, sorrow, and anger, according 
to fabulous history: they have had wars and combats, not 
only, as Homer relates, when they have interested them 
selves in two different armies, but when they have fought 
battles in their own defence against the Titans and giants. 
These stories, of the greatest weakness and levity, are re 
lated and believed with the most implicit folly. 

But, rejecting these fables with contempt, a Deity is 
diffused in every part of nature ; in earth under the name 
of Ceres, in the sea under the name of Neptune, in oth 
er parts under other names. Yet whatever they are, and 
whatever characters and dispositions they have, and what 
ever name custom has given them, we are bound to wor 
ship and adore them. The best, the chastest, the most sa 
cred and pious worship of the Gods is to reverence them 
always with a pure, perfect, and unpolluted mind and 
voice ; for our ancestors, as well as the philosophers, have 
separated superstition from religion. They who prayed 
whole days and sacrificed, that their children might sur 
vive them (lit superstites essent), were called superstitious, 
which word became afterward more general; but they 
who diligently perused, and, as we may say, read or prac 
tised over again, all the duties relating to the worship of 
the Gods, were called religiosi religious, from relegendo 
"reading over again, or practising;" as elegantes, elegant, 
ex eligendo, " from choosing, making a good choice ;" dili- 
gentes, diligent, ex diligendo,"from attending on what we 
love;" intelligentes, intelligent, from understanding for 
the signification is derived in the same manner. Thus are 
the words superstitious and religious understood ; the one 
being a term of reproach, the other of commendation. I 
think I have now sufficiently demonstrated that there are 
Gods, and what they are. 

XXIX. I am now to show that the world is governed by 
the providence of the Gods. This is an important point, 
which you Academics endeavor to confound ; and, indeed, 
the whole contest is with you, Cotta; for your sect, Vcl- 
leius, know very little of what is said on different subjects 
by other schools. You read and have a taste only for 


your own books, and condemn all others without exami 
nation. For instance, when you mentioned yesterday 1 that 
prophetic old dame TLpovoia, Providence, invented by the 
Stoics, you were led into that error by imagining that 
Providence was made by them to be a particular Deity 
that governs the whole universe, whereas it is only spoken 
in a short manner ; as when it is said " The commonwealth 
of Athens is governed by the council," it is meant " of the 
Areopagus ;" a so when we say " The world is governed by 
providence," we mean "by the providence of the Gods." 
To express ourselves, therefore, more fully and clearly, 
we say, " The world is governed by the providence of the 
Gods." Be not, therefore, lavish of your railleries, of 
which your sect has little to spare : if I may advise you, 
do not attempt it. It does not become you, it is not your 
talent, nor is it in your power. This is not applied to you 
in particular who have the education and politeness of a 
Roman, but to all your sect in general, and especially to 
your leader 3 a man unpolished, illiterate, insulting, with 
out wit, without reputation, without elegance. 

XXX. I assert, then, that the universe, with all its parts, 
was originally constituted, and has, without any cessation, 
been ever governed by the providence of the Gods. This 
argument we Stoics commonly divide into three parts ; the 
first of which is, that the existence of the Gods being once 
known, it must follow that the world is governed by their 
wisdom ; the second, that as everything is under the di 
rection of an intelligent nature, which has produced that 
beautiful order in the world, it is evident that it is formed 
from animating principles ; the third is deduced from those 
glorious works which we behold in the heavens and the 

First, then, we must either deny the existence of the 
Gods (as Democritus and Epicurus by their doctrine of 
images in some sort do), or, if we acknowledge that there 

1 Here is a mistake, as Fulvius Ursinus observes; for the discourse 
seems to be continued in one day, as appears from the beginning of this 
book. This may be an inadvertency of Cicero. 

a The senate of Athens was so called from the words "Apeiot; Ilayoc, 
the Village, some say the Hill, of Mars. 

3 Epicurus. 


are Gods, we must believe they are employed, and that, 
too, in something excellent. Now, nothing is so excellent 
as the administration of the universe. The universe, there 
fore, is governed by the wisdom of the Gods. Otherwise, 
we must imagine that there is some cause superior to the 
Deity, whether it be a nature inanimate, or a necessity 
agitated by a mighty force, that produces those beautiful 
works which we behold. The nature of the Gods would 
then be neither supreme nor excellent, if you subject it to 
that necessity or to that nature, by which you would make 
the heaven, the earth, and the seas to be governed. But 
there is nothing superior to the Deity ; the world, there 
fore, must be governed by him : consequently, the Deity is 
under no obedience or subjection to nature, but does him 
self rule over all nature. In effect, if we allow the Gods 
have understanding, we allow also their providence, which 
regards the most important things ; for, can they be ig 
norant of those important things, and how they are to be 
conducted and preserved, or do they want power to sus 
tain and direct them? Ignorance is inconsistent with the 
nature of the Gods, and imbecility is repugnant to their 
majesty. From whence it follows, as we assert, that the 
world is governed by the providence of the Gods. 

XXXI. But supposing, which is incontestable, that there 
are Gods, they must be animated, and not only animated, 
but endowed with reason united, as we may say, in a civil 
agreement and society, and governing together one uni 
verse, as a republic or city. Thus the same reason, the 
same verity, the same law, which ordains good and pro 
hibits evil, exists in the Gods as it does in men. From 
them, consequently, we have prudence and understand 
ing, for which reason our ancestors erected temples to the 
Mind, Faith, Virtue, and Concord. Shall we not then al 
low the Gods to have these perfections, since we worship 
the sacred and august images of them? But if under 
standing, faith, virtue, and concord reside in human kind, 
how could they come on earth, unless from heaven? And 
if we are possessed of wisdom, reason, and prudence, the 
Gods must have the same qualities in a greater degree; 
and not only have them, but employ them in the best and 
greatest works. The universe is the best and greatest 


ivork ; therefore it must be governed by the wisdom and 
providence of the Gods. 

Lastly, as we have sufficiently shown that those glorious 
and luminous bodies which we behold are Deities I mean 
the sun, the moon, the fixed and wandering stars, the fir 
mament, and the world itself, and those other things also 
which have any singular virtue, and are of any great util 
ity to human kind it follows that all things are governed 
by providence and a divine mind. But enough has been 
said on the first part. 

XXXII. It is now incumbent on me to prove that all 
things are subjected to nature, and most beautifully di 
rected by her. But, first of all, it is proper to explain 
precisely what that nature is, in order to come to the 
more easy understanding of what I would demonstrate. 
Some think that nature is a certain irrational power excit 
ing in bodies the necessary motions. Others, that it is an 
intelligent power, acting by order and method, designing 
some end in every cause, and always aiming at that end, 
whose works express such skill as no art, no hand, can- imi 
tate ; for, they say, such is the virtue of its seed, that, 
however small it is, if it falls into a place proper for its 
reception, and meets with matter conducive to its nour 
ishment and increase, it forms and produces everything 
in its respective kind; either vegetables, Avhich receive 
their nourishment from their roots ; or animals, endowed 
with motion, sense, appetite, and abilities to beget their 

Some apply the word nature to everything ; as Epicurus 
does, who acknowledges no cause, but atoms, a vacuum, 
and their accidents. But when we 1 say that nature forms 
and governs the world, we do not apply it to a clod of 
earth, or piece of stone, or anything of that sort, whose 
parts have not the necessary cohesion, 8 but to a tree, in 

1 The Stoics. 

3 By nulla cohairendi natura if it is the right, as it is the common 
reading Cicero must mean the same as by nulla crescendi natura, or 
coalescendi, either of which Lambinus proposes; for, as the same learn 
ed critic well observes, is there not a cohesion of parts in a clod, or in a 
piece of stone? Our learned Walker proposes sola cohcerendi natura, 
which mends the sense very much ; and I wish he had the authority of 
any copy for it. 


which there is not the appearance of chance, but of order 
and a resemblance of art. 

XXXIII. But if the art of nature gives life and increase 
to vegetables, without doubt it supports the earth itself ; 
for, being impregnated with seeds, she produces every 
kind of vegetable, and embracing their roots, she nourishes 
and increases them ; while, in her turn, she receives her 
nourishment from the other elements, and by her exhala 
tions gives proper sustenance to the air, the sky, and all 
the superior bodies. If nature gives vigor and support to 
the earth, by the same reason she has an influence over 
the rest of the world ; for as the earth gives nourishment 
to vegetables, so the air is the preservation of animals. 
The air sees with us, hears with us, and utters sounds 
with us ; without it, there would be no seeing, hearing, or 
sounding. It even moves with us; for wherever we go, 
whatever motion we make, it seems to retire and give 
place to us. 

That which inclines to the centre, that which rises from 
it to the surface, and that which rolls about the centre, 
constitute the universal world, and make one entire nat 
ure; and as there are four sorts of bodies, the continuance 
of nature is caused by their reciprocal changes; for the 
water arises from the earth, the air from the water, and 
the fire from the air; and, reversing this order, the air 
arises from fire, the water from the air, and from the wa 
ter the earth, the lowest of the four elements, of which all 
beings are formed. Thus by their continual motions back 
ward and forward, upward and downward, the conjunc 
tion of the several parts of the universe is preserved ; a 
union which, in the beauty we now behold it, must be 
eternal, or at least of a very long duration, and almost for 
an infinite space of time; and, whichever it is, the uni 
verse must of consequence be governed by nature. For 
what art of navigating fleets, or of marshalling an army, 
and to instance the produce of nature what vine, what 
tree, what animated form and conformation of their mem 
bers, give us so great an indication of skill as appears in 
the universe? Therefore we must either deny that there 
is the least trace of an intelligent nature, or acknowledge 
that the world is governed by it. But since the universe 


contains all particular beings, as well as their seeds, can 
we say that it is not itself governed by nature? That 
would be the same as saying that the teeth and the beard 
of man are the work of nature, but that the man himself 
is not. Thus the effect would be understood to be great 
er than the cause. 

XXXIV. Now, the universe sows, as I may say, plants, 
produces, raises, nourishes, and preserves what nature ad 
ministers, as members and parts of itself. If nature, there 
fore, governs them, she must also govern the universe. 
And, lastly, in nature's administration there is nothing 
faulty. She produced the best possible effect out of those 
elements which existed. Let any one show how it could 
have been better. But that can never be; and whoever 
attempts to mend it will either make it worse, or aim at 

But if all the parts of the universe are so constituted 
that nothing could be better for use or beauty, let us con 
sider whether this is the effect of chance, or whether, in 
such a state they could possibly cohere, but by the direc 
tion of wisdom and divine providence. Nature, therefore, 
cannot be void of reason, if art can bring nothing to per 
fection without it, and if the works of nature exceed those 
of art. How is it consistent with common-sense that when 
you view an image or a picture, you imagine it is wrought 
by art; when you behold afar off a ship under sail, you 
judge it is steered by reason and art; when you see a dial 
or water-clock, 1 you believe the hours are shown by art, 
and not by chance ; and yet that you should imagine that 
the universe, which contains all arts and the artificers, can 
be void of reason and understanding? 

But if that sphere which was lately made by our friend 
Posidonius, the regular revolutions of which show the 
course of the sun, moon, and five wandering stars, as it is 
every day and night performed, were carried into Scythia 
or Britain, who, in those barbarous countries, would doubt 
that that sphere had been made so perfect by the exertion 
of reason ? 

XXXV. Yet these people 2 doubt whether the universe, 

1 Nasica Scipio, the censor, is said to have been the first who made a 
water-clock in Rome. 2 The Epicureans. 


from whence all things arise and are made, is not the ef 
fect of chance, or some necessity, rather than the work of 
reason and a divine mind. According to them, Archime 
des shows more knowledge in representing the motions of 
the celestial globe than nature does in causing them, 
though the copy is so infinitely beneath the original. The 
shepherd in Attius, 1 who had never seen a ship, when he 
perceived from a mountain afar off the divine vessel of the 
Argonauts, surprised and frighted at this new object, ex 
pressed himself in this manner: 

What horrid bulk is that before my eyes, 
Which o'er the deep with noise and vigor flies ? 
It turns the whirlpools up, its force so strong, 
And drives the billows as it rolls along. 
The ocean's violence it fiercely braves ; 
Runs furious on, and throws about the waves. 
Swiftly impetuous in its course, and loud, 
Like the dire bursting of a show'ry cloud; 
Or, like a rock, forced by the winds and rain, 
Now whirl'd aloft, then plunged into the main. 
But hold ! perhaps the Earth and Neptune jar, 
And fiercely wage an elemental war ; 
Or Triton with his trident has o'erthrown 
His den, and loosen'd from the roots the stone; 
The rocky fragment, from the bottom torn, 
Is lifted up, and on the surface borne. 

At first he is in suspense at the sight of this unknown ob 
ject ; but on seeing the young mariners, and hearing their 
singing, he says, 

Like sportive dolphins, with their snouts they roar ; a 
and afterward goes on, 

Lond in my ears methinks their voices ring, 
As if I heard the God Sylvanus sing. 

As at first view the shepherd thinks he sees something 
inanimate and insensible, but afterward, judging by more 

1 An old Latin poet, commended by Quintilian for the gravity of his 
sense and his loftiness of style. 

3 The shepherd is here supposed to take the stem or beak of the ship 
for the mouth, from which the roaring voices of the sailors came. Ros 
trum is here a lucky word to put in the mouth of one who never saw a 
ship before, as it is used for the beak of a bird, the snout of a beast or 
fish, and for the stem of a ship. 


trustworthy indications, he begins to figure to himself 
what it is ; so philosophers, if they are surprised at first 
at the sight of the universe, ought, when they have con 
sidered the regular, uniform, and immutable motions of it, 
to conceive that there is some Being that is not only an 
inhabitant of this celestial and divine mansion, but a ruler 
and a governor, as architect of this mighty fabric. 

XXXVI. Now, in my opinion, they 1 do not seem to have 
even the least suspicion that the heavens and earth afford 
anything marvellous. For, in the first place, the earth is 
situated in the middle part of the universe, and is sur 
rounded on all sides by the air, which we breathe, and 
which is called " aer," 2 which, indeed, is a Greek word ; but 
by constant use it is well understood by our countrymen, 
for, indeed, it is employed as a Latin word. The air is 
encompassed by the boundless ether (sky), which consists 
of the fires above. This word we borrow also, for we use 
aether in Latin as well as aer; though Pacuvius thus ex 
presses it, 

This, of which I speak, 

In Latin 's ccelum, cether call'd in Greek. 

As though he were not a Greek into whose mouth he puts 
this sentence ; but he is speaking in Latin, though we lis 
ten as if he were speaking Greek ; for, as he says elsewhere, 

His speech discovers him a Grecian born. 

But to return to more important matters. In the sky 
innumerable fiery stars exist, of which the sun is the chief, 
enlightening all with his refulgent splendor, and being by 
many degrees larger than the whole earth; and this mul 
titude of vast fires are so far from hurting the earth, and 
things terrestrial, that they are of benefit to them ; whereas, 
if they were moved from their stations, we should inevita 
bly be burned through the want of a proper moderation 
and temperature of heat. 

XXXVII. Is it possible for any man to behold these 
things, and yet imagine that certain solid and individual 
bodies move by their natural force and gravitation, and 
that a world so beautifully adorned was made by their 
fortuitous concourse? He who believes this may as well 

1 The Epicureans. a Greek, af/p Latin, aer. 



believe that if a great quantity of the one-and-twenty let 
ters, composed either of gold or any other matter, were 
thrown upon the ground, they would fall into such order 
as legibly to form the Annals of Ennius. I doubt whether 
fortune could make a single verse of them. How, there- 
fore, can these people assert that the world was made by 
the fortuitous concourse of atoms, which have no color, no 
quality which the Greeks call TroiorT/g, no sense? or that 
there are innumerable worlds, some rising and some per 
ishing, in every moment of time ? But if a concourse of 
atoms can make a world, why not a porch, a temple, a 
house, a city, which are works of less labor ad difficulty ? 

Certainly those men talk so idly and inconsiderately 
concerning this lower world that they appear to me never 
to have contemplated the wonderful magnificence of the 
heavens ; which is the next topic for our consideration. 

Well, then, did Aristotle 1 observe: "If there were men 
whose habitations had been always underground, in great 
and commodious houses, adorned with statues and pict 
ures, furnished with everything which they who are re 
puted happy abound with ; and if, without stirring from 
thence, they should be informed of a certain divine power 
and majesty, and, after some time, the earth should open, 
and they should quit their dark abode to come to us, 
where they should immediately behold the earth, the seas, 
the heavens; should consider the vast extent of the clouds 
and force of the winds; should see the sun, and observe 
his grandeur and beauty, and also his generative power, 
inasmuch as day is occasioned by the diffusion of his 
light through the skv ; and when night has obscured the 

O O V f ij 

earth, they should contemplate the heavens bespangled 
and adorned with stars, the surprising variety of the moon 
in her increase and wane, the rising and setting of all the 
stars, and the inviolable regularity of their courses ; when," 
says he, " they should see these things, they would un 
doubtedly conclude that there are Gods, and that these 
are their mighty works." 

XXXVIII. Thus far Aristotle. Let us imagine, also, as 
great darkness as was formerly occasioned by the irruption 
of the fires of Mount .ZEtna, which are said to have ob- 
1 The treatise of Aristotle, from whence this is taken, is lost. 


scared the adjacent countries for two clays to such a de 
gree that no man could recognize his fellow ; but on the 
third, when the sun appeared, they seemed to be risen from 
the dead. Now, if we should be suddenly brought from 
a state of eternal darkness to see the light, how beautiful 
would the heavens seem ! But our minds have become 
used to it from the daily practice and habituation of our 
eyes, nor do we take the trouble to search into the princi 
ples of what is always in view; as if the novelty, rather 
than the importance, of things ought to excite us to inves 
tigate their causes. 

Is he worthy to be called a man who attributes to 
chance, not to an intelligent cause, the constant motion of 
the heavens, the regular courses of the stars, the agreeable 
proportion and connection of all things, conducted with so 
much reason that our intellect itself is unable to estimate 
it rightly ? When we see machines move artificially, as 
a sphere, a clock, or the like, do we doubt whether they 
are the productions of reason? And when we behold the 
heavens moving with a prodigious celerity, and causing 
an annual succession of the different seasons of the year, 
which vivify and preserve all things, can we doubt that 
this world is directed, I will not say only by reason, but 
by reason most excellent and divine ? For without troub 
ling ourselves with too refined a subtlety of discussion, we 
may use our eyes to contemplate the beauty of those things 
which we assert have been arranged by divine providence. 

XXXIX. First, let us examine the earth, whose situa 
tion is in the middle of the universe, 1 solid, round, and 
conglobular by its natural tendency ; clothed with flowers, 
herbs, trees, and fruits ; the whole in multitudes incredible, 
and with a variety suitable to every taste : let us consider 
the ever-cool and running springs, the clear waters of the 
rivers, the verdure of their banks, the hollow depths of 
caves, the cragginess of rocks, the heights of impending 
mountains, and the boundless extent of plains, the hidden 
veins of gold and silver, and the infinite quarries of marble. 

1 To the universe the Stoics certainly annexed the idea of a limited 
space, otherwise they could not have talked of a middle ; for there e;m 
l>e no middle hut of a limited space: infinite space can have no middle, 
there being infinite extension from every part. 


Wh.'it and how various are the kinds of animals, tame 
or wild? The flights and notes of birds? How do the 
beasts live in the fields and in the forests? What shall I 
say of men, who, being appointed, as we may say, to culti 
vate the earth, do not suffer its fertility to be choked with 
weeds, nor the ferocity of beasts to make it desolate ; who, 
by the houses and cities which they build, adorn the fields, 
the isles, and the shores? If we could view these objects 
with the naked eye, as we can by the contemplation of the 
mind, nobody, at such a sight, would doubt there was a 
divine intelligence. 

But how beautiful is the sea ! How pleasant to see the 
extent of it ! What a multitude and variety of islands ! 
How delightful are the coasts ! What numbers and what 
diversity of inhabitants does it contain; some within the 
bosom of it, some floating on the surface, and others by 
their shells cleaving to the rocks ! While the sea itself, 
approaching to the land, sports so closely to its shores 
that those two elements appear to be but one. 

Next above the sea is the air, diversified by day and 
night: when rarefied, it possesses the higher region; when 
condensed, it turns into clouds, and with the waters which 
it gathers enriches the earth by the rain. Its agitation 
produces the winds. It causes heat and cold according to 
the different seasons. It sustains birds in their flight; 
and, being inhaled, nourishes and preserves all animated 

XL. Add to these, which alone remaineth to be men 
tioned, the firmament of heaven, a region the farthest from 
our abodes, which surrounds and contains all things. It 
is likewise called ether, or sky, the extreme bounds and 
limits of the universe, in which the stars perform their 
appointed courses in a most wonderful manner ; among 
which, the sun, whose magnitude far surpasses the earth, 
makes his revolution round it, and by his rising and set 
ting causes day and night ; sometimes coming near tow 
ards the earth, and sometimes going from it, he every 
year makes two contrary reversions 1 from the extreme 

1 These two contrary reversions are from the tropics of Cancer and 
Capricorn. They are the extreme bounds of the sun's course. The 
reader must observe that the astronomical parts of this book are intro- 


point of its course. In his retreat the earth seems locked 
up in^adness ; in his return it appears exhilarated with 
the heavens. The moon, which, as mathematicians demon 
strate, is bigger than half the earth, makes her revolutions 
through the same spaces 1 as the sun ; but at one time ap 
proaching, and at another receding from, the sun, she dif 
fuses the light which she has borrowed from him over the 
whole earth, and has herself also many various changes in 
her appearance. When she is found under the sun, and op 
posite to it, the brightness of her rays is lost ; but when 
the earth directly interposes between the moon and sun, the 
moon is totally eclipsed. The other wandering stars have 
their courses round the earth in the same spaces, 2 and rise 
and set in the same manner ; their motions are sometimes 
quick, sometimes slow, and often they stand still. There is 
nothing more wonderful, nothing more beautiful. There is a 
vast number of fixed stars, distinguished by the names of cer 
tain figures, to which we find they have some resemblance. 
XLI. I will here, says Balbus, looking at me, make use 
of the verses which, when you were young, you translated 
from Aratus, 3 and which, because they are in Latin, gave 
me so much delight that I have many of them still in my 
memory. As then, we daily see, without any change or 

the rest 4 

Swiftly pursue the course to which they're bound ; 

And with the heavens the days and nights go round ; 

the contemplation of which, to a mind desirous of observ 
ing the constancy of nature, is inexhaustible. 

The extreme top of either point is call'd 
The pole. 5 

dticed by the Stoic as proofs of design and reason in the universe ; and, 
notwithstanding the errors in his planetary system, his intent is well an 
swered, because all he means is that the regular motions of the heaven 
ly bodies, and their dependencies, are demonstrations of a divine mind. 
The inference proposed to be drawn from his astronomical observations 
is as just as if his system was in every part unexceptionably right : the 
same may be said of his anatomical observations. 

1 In the zodiac. * Ibid. 

3 These verses of Cicero are a translation from a Greek poem of Ara 
tus, called the Phenomena. 

4 The fixed stars. * The arctic and antarctic poles. 


About this the two "AJOWOI are turned, which never set ; 

Of these, the Greeks one Cynosura call, 

The other Helice. 1 

The brightest stars, 2 indeed, of Helice are discernible all 

Which are by us Septentriones call'd. 

Cynosura moves about the same pole, with a like number 
of stars, and ranged in the same order : 

This 3 the Phoenicians choose to make their guide 
When on the ocean in the night they ride. 
Adorned with stars of more refulgent light, 
The other 4 shines, and first appears at night. 
Though this is small, sailors its use have found ; 
More inward is its course, and short its round. 

XLIL The aspect of those stars is the more admirable, 

The Dragon grim between them bends his way, 
As through the winding banks the currents stray, 
And up and down in sinuous bending rolls. 5 

His whole form is excellent ; but the shape of his head 
and the ardor of his eyes are most remarkable. 

Various the stars which deck his glittering head ; 
His temples are with double glory spread ; 
From his fierce eyes two fervid lights afar 
Flash, and his chin shines with one radiant star ; 
Bow'd is his head ; and his round neck he bends, 
And to the tail of Helice extends. 

The rest of the Dragon's body we see 7 at every hour in 
the night. 

1 The two Arctoi are northern constellations. Cynosura is what we 
call the Lesser Bear ; Helice, the Greater Bear ; in Latin, Ursa Minor 
and Ursa Major. 

3 These stars in the Greater Bear are vulgarly called the "Seven 
.Stars," or the "Northern Wain;" by the Latin's, "Septentriones." 

3 The Lesser Bear. 4 The Greater Bear. 

6 Exactly agreeable to this and the following description of the Drag 
on is the same northern constellation described in the map by Flam- 
steed in his Atlas Ccelestis ; and all the figures here described by Ara- 
tus nearly agree with the maps of the same constellations in the Atlas 
Coelestis, though they are not all placed precisely alike. 

* The tail of the Greater Bear. 

7 That is, in Macedon, where Aratus lived. 


Here 1 suddenly the head a little hides 
Itself, where all its parts, which are in sight, 
And those unseen in the same place unite. 

Near to this head 

Is placed the figure of a man that moves 
Weary and sad, 

which the Greeks 

Engonasis do call, because he's borne 5 
About with bended knee. Near him is placed 
The crown with a refulgent lustre graced. 

This indeed is at his back ; but Anguitenens (the Snake- 
holder) is near his head : 3 

The Greeks him Ophiuchus call, renown'd 
The name. He strongly grasps the serpent round 
With both his hands ; himself the serpent folds 
Beneath his breast, and round his middle holds ; 
Yet gravely he, bright shining in the skies, 
Moves on, and treads on Nepa's 4 breast and eyes. 

The Septentriones 5 are followed by 

Arctophylax, 6 that's said to be the same 
Which we Bootes call, who has the name, 
Because he drives the Greater Bear along 
Yoked to a wain. 

Besides, in Bootes, 

A star of glittering rays about his waist, 
Arcturus called, a name renown'd, is placed/ 

1 The true interpretation of this passage is as follows : Here in Mac- 
edon, says Aratus, the head of the Dragon does not entirely immerge 
itself in the ocean, but only touches the superficies of it. By ortus and 
obitus I doubt not but Cicero meant, agreeable to Aratus, those parts 
which arise to view, and those which are removed from sight. 

2 These are two northern constellations. Engonasis, in some cata 
logues called Hercules, because he is figured kneeling h y6vaoiv (on his 
knees). 'Evyovaaiv K.a7J:ova\ as Aratus says, they call Engonasis. 

3 The crown is placed under the feet of Hercules in the Atlas Cceles- 
tis ; but Ophiuchus ('0<^oi>.;i;of), the Snake-holder, is placed in the map 
by Flamsteed as described here by Aratus ; and their heads almost meet. 

4 The Scorpion. Qphiuchus, though a northern constellation, is not 
far from that part of the zodiac where the Scorpion is, which is one of 
the six southern signs. * The Wain of seven stars. 

8 The Wain -driver. This northern constellation is, in our present 
maps, figured with a club in his right hand behind the Greater Bear. 

7 In some modern maps Arcturus, a star of the first magnitude, is placed 
in the belt that is round the waist of Bootes. Cicero says suliter prcecordia, 
which is about the waist; and Aratus says i'Trb (uvy, under the belt. 


Beneath which is 

The Virgin of illustrious form, whose hand 
Holds a bright spike. 

XLIII. And truly these signs are so regularly disposed 
that a divine wisdom evidently appears in them : 

Beneath the Bear's 1 head have the Twins their seat, 
Under his chest the Crab, beneath his feet 
The mighty Lion darts a trembling flame. 2 

The Charioteer 

On the left side of Gemini we see, 3 

And at his head behold fierce Helice ; 

On his left shoulder the bright Goat appears. 

But to proceed 

This is indeed a great and glorious star, 
On th' other side the Kids, inferior far, 
Yield but a slender light to mortal eyes. 

Under his feet 

The horned bull, 4 with sturdy limbs, is placed: 

his head is spangled with a number of stars; 
These by the Greeks are called the Hyades, 

from raining ; for veiv is to rain : therefore they are in 
judiciously called Suculce by our people, as if they had 
their name from 5c, a sow, and not from {!u. 

Behind the Lesser Bear, Cepheus 6 follows with extended 

For close behind the Lesser Bear he comes. 

1 Sub caput Arcti, under the head of the Greater Bear. 

* The Crab is, by the ancients and moderns, placed in the zodiac, as 
here, between the Twins and the Lion ; and they are all three northern 

8 The Twins are placed in the zodiac with the side of one to the 
northern hemisphere, and the side of the other to the southern hemi 
sphere. Auriga, the Charioteer, is placed in the northern hemisphere 
near the zodiac, by the Twins ; and at the head of the Charioteer is Hel 
ice, the Greater Bear, placed ; and the Goat is a bright star of the first 
magnitude placed on the left shoulder of this northern constellation, and 
called Capra, the Goat. Hcedi, the Kids, are two more stars of the same 

4 A constellation ; one of the northern signs in the zodiac, in which 
the Hyades are placed. 

6 One of the feet of Cepheus, a northern constellation, is under the tail 
of the Lesser Bear. 


Before him goes 

Cassiopea 1 with a faintish light ; 

But near her moves (fair and illustrious sight!) 

Andromeda, 1 who, with an eager pace, 

Seems to avoid her parent's mournful face. 3 

With glittering mane the Horse* now seems to tread, 

So near he comes, on her refulgent head ; 

With a fair star, that close to him appears, 

A double form 8 and but one light he wears ; 

By which he seems ambitious in the sky 

An everlasting knot of stars to tie. 

Near him the Rum, with wreathed horns, is placed ; 

by whom 

The Fishes 8 are ; of which one seems to haste 
Somewhat before the other, to the blast 
Of the north wind exposed. 

XLIV. Perseus is described as placed at the feet of Au- 
droraeda : 

And him the sharp blasts of the north wind beat. 
Near his left knee, but dim their light, their seat 
The small Pleiades 7 maintain. We find, 
Not far from them, the Lyre 8 but slightly join'd. 
Next is the winged Bird, 9 that seems to fly 
Beneath the spacious covering of the sky. 

1 Grotius, and after him Dr. Davis, and other learned men, read Cas- 
siejiea, after the Greek Haaaieireia, and reject the common reading, Cas 

* These northern constellations here mentioned have been always 
placed together as one family with Cepheus and Perseus, as they are in 
our modern maps. 

3 This alludes to the fable of Perseus and Andromeda. 

4 Pegasus, who is one of Perseus and Andromeda's family. 
6 That is, with wings. 

* Aries, the Ram, is the first northern sign in the zodiac ; Pisces, the 
Fishes, the last southern sign ; therefore they must be near one another, 
as they are in a circle or belt. In Flamsteed's Atlas Ccelestis one of the 
Fishes is near the head of the Ram, and the other near the Um of Aqua 

T These are called Virgiliae by Cicero ; by Aratus, the Pleiades, 
nbji&Sef and they are placed at the neck of the Bull ; and one of 
Persens's feet touches the Bull in the Atlas Co?,lestis. 

8 This northern constellation is called Fides by Cicero; but it must be 
the same with Lyra ; because Lyra is placed in our maps as Fides is here. 

9 This is called Ales Avis by Cicero ; and I doubt not but the northern 
constellation Cygnus is here to be understood, for the description and 
place of the Swan in the Atlas Crelestis are the same which Ales Avis 
hns here. 

1 3* 


Near the head of the Horse 1 lies the right hand of Aqua 
rius, then all Aquarius himself." 

Then Capricorn, with half the form of beast, 

Breathes chill and piercing colds from his strong breast, 

And in a spacious circle takes his round ; 

When him, while in the winter solstice bound, 

The sun has visited with constant light, 

lie turns his course, and shorter makes the night. 1 

Not far from hence is seen 

The Scorpion 4 rising lofty from below ; 
By him the Archer, 6 with his bended bow; 
Near him the Bird, with gaudy feathers spread ; 
And the fierce Eagle" hovers o'er his head. 

Next comes the Dolphin ; 7 

Then bright Orion, 8 who obliquely moves; 
he is followed by 

The fervent Dog, bright with refulgent stars: 
next the Hare follows 10 

Unwearied in his course. At the Dog's tail 
Argo 11 moves on, and moving seems to sail; 
O'er her the Ram and Fishes have their place ;" 
The illustrious vessel touches, in her pace, 
The river's banks; 13 

which you may see winding and extending itself to a great 

I Pegasus. 

a The Water-bearer, one of the six southern signs in the zodiac : he is 
described in our maps pouring water out of an urn, and leaning with one 
hand on the tail of Capricorn, another southern sign. 

3 When the sun is in Capricorn, the days are at the shortest ; and 
when in Cancer, at the longest. 

4 One of the six southern signs. 

6 Sagittarius, another southern sign. 6 A northern constellation. 

7 A northern constellation. 8 A southern constellation. 

9 This is Canis Major, a southern constellation. Orion and the Dog 
are named together by Hcsiod, who flourished many hundred years be 
fore Cicero or Aratus. 

J0 A southern constellation, placed ns here in the Atlas Ccelestis. 

II A southern constellation, so called from the ship Argo, in which Ja 
son and the rest of the Argonauts sailed on their expedition to Colchos. 

M The Ram is the first of the northern signs in the /-odiac ; and the 
last southern sign is the Fishes ; which two signs, meeting in the zodiac, 
cover the constellation called Argo. 

13 The river Kridamis, a southern constellation. 


The Fetters 1 at the Fishes' tails are hung. 
By Nepa's" head behold the Altar stand, 3 
Which by the breath of southern winds is fann'd ; 

near which the Centaur 4 

Hastens his mingled parts to join beneath 
The Serpent, 5 there extending his right hand, 
To where you see the monstrous Scorpion stand, 
Which he at the bright Altar fiercely slays. 
Here on her lower parts see Hydra 6 raise 

whose bulk is very far extended. 

Amid the winding of her body 's placed 
The shining Goblet; 7 and the glossy Crow* 
Plunges his beak into her parts below. 
Antecanis beneath the Twins is seen, 
Call'd Procyon by the Greeks. 9 

Can any one in his senses imagine that this disposition 
of the stars, and this heaven so beautifully adorned, could 
ever have been formed by a fortuitous concourse of atoms ? 
Or what other nature, being destitute of intellect and rea 
son, could possibly have produced these effects, which not 
only required reason to bring them about, but the very 
character of which could not be understood and appreci 
ated without the most strenuous exertions of well-directed 
reason ? 

XLV. But our admiration is not limited to the objects 
here described. What is most wonderful is that the world 
is so durable, and so perfectly made for lasting that it is 
not to be impaired by time; for all its parts tend equally 
to the centre, and are bound together by a sort of chain, 
which surrounds the elements. This chain is nature, which 

1 A southern constellation. 

2 This is called the Scorpion in the original of Aratus. 

3 A southern constellation. * A southern constellation. 

6 The Serpent is not mentioned in Cicero's translation ; but it is in the 
original of Aratus. 

8 A southern constellation. 

7 The Goblet, or Cup, a southern constellation. 
r 8 A southern constellation. 

9 Antecanis, a southern constellation, is the Little Dog, and called 
Antecanis in Latin, and Uponiuv in Greek, because he rises before the 
other Dog. 


being diffused through the universe, and performing all 
things with judgment and reason, attracts the extremities 
to the centre. 

If, then, the world is round, and if on that account all 
its parts, being of equal dimensions and relative propor 
tions, mutually support and are supported by one another, 
it must follow that as all the parts incline to the centre 
(for that is the lowest place of a globe) there is nothing 
whatever which can put a stop to that propensity in the 
case of such great weights. For the same reason, though 
the sea is higher than the earth, yet because it has the like 
tendency, it is collected everywhere, equally concentres, and 
never overflows, and is never wasted. 

The air, which is contiguous, ascends by its lightness, 
but diffuses itself through the whole; therefore it is by 
nature joined and united to the sea, and at the same time 
borne by the same power towards the heaven, by the thin 
ness and heat of which it is so tempered as to be made 
proper to supply life and wholesome air for the support 
of animated beings. This is encompassed by the highest 
region of the heavens, which is called the sky, which is 
joined to the extremity of the air, but retains its own heat 
pure and unmixed. 

XL VI. The stars have their revolutions in the sky, and 
are continued by the tendency of all parts towards the cen 
tre. Their duration is perpetuated by their form and fig 
ure, for they are round ; which form, as I think has been 
before observed, is the least liable to injury; and as they 
are composed of fire, they are fed by the vapors which are 
exhaled by the sun from the earth, the sea, and other wa 
ters ; but when these vapors have nourished and refreshed 
the stars, and the whole sky, they are sent back to be ex 
haled again; so that very little is lost or consumed by the 
fire of the stars and the flame of the sky. Hence we Sto 
ics conclude which Pana3tius 1 is said to have doubted of 
that the whole world at last would be consumed by a 
general conflagration, when, all moisture being exhausted, 
neither the earth could have any nourishment, nor the air 
return again, since water, of which it is formed, would then 
be all consumed ; so that only fire would subsist ; and 
1 Pnnrctins, a Stoic philosopher. 


from this fire, which is an animating power and a Deity, a 
new world would arise and be re-established in the same 

I should be sorry to appear to you to dwell too long 
upon this subject of the stars, and more especially upon 
that of the planets, whose motions, though different, make 
a very just agreement. Saturn, the highest, chills ; Mars, 
placed in the middle, burns ; while Jupiter, interposing, 
moderates their excess, both of light and heat. The two 
planets beneath Mars 1 obey the sun. The sun himself fills 
the whole universe with his own genial light; and the 
moon, illuminated by him, influences conception, birth, and 
maturity. And who is there who is not moved by this 
union of things, and by this concurrence of nature agree 
ing together, as it were, for the safety of the world? And 
yet I feel sure that none of these reflections have ever been 
made by these men. 

XL VII. Let us proceed from celestial to terrestrial 
things. What is there in them which does not prove the 
principle of an intelligent nature ? First, as to vegetables ; 
they have roots to sustain their stems, and to draw from 
the earth a nourishing moisture to support the vital prin 
ciple which those roots contain. They are clothed with a 
rind or bark, to secure them more thoroughly from heat 
and cold. The vines we see take hold on props with their 
tendrils, as if with hands, and raise themselves as if they 
were animated ; it is even said that they shun cabbages 
and coleworts, as noxious and pestilential to them, and, if 
planted by them, will not touch any part. 

But what a vast variety is there of animals ! and how 
wonderfully is every kind adapted to preserve itself ! Some 
are covered with hides, some clothed with fleeces, and 
some guarded with bristles ; some are sheltered with feath 
ers, some with scales ; some are armed with horns, and 
some are furnished with wings to escape from danger. 
Nature hath also liberally and plentifully provided for all 
animals their proper food. I could expatiate on the ju 
dicious and curious formation and disposition of their 
bodies for the reception and digestion of it, for all their 
interior parts are so framed and disposed that there is 
1 Mercury and Venus. 


nothing superfluous, nothing that is not necessary for the 
preservation of life. Besides, nature has also given these 
beasts appetite and sense; in order that by the one they 
may be excited to procure sufficient sustenance, and by the 
other they may distinguish what is noxious from what is 
salutary. Some animals seek their food walking, some 
creeping, some flying, and some swimming ; some take it 
with their mouth and teeth ; some seize it with their claws, 
and some with their beaks ; some suck, some graze, some 
bolt it whole, and some chew it. Some are so low that 
they can with ease take such food as is to be found on the 
ground ; but the taller, as geese, swans, cranes, and camels, 
are assisted by a length of neck. To the elephant is given 
a hand, 1 without which, from his unwieldiness of body, he 
would scarce have any means of attaining food. 

XLVIII. But to those beasts which live by preying on 
others, nature has given either strength or swiftness. On 
some animals she has even bestowed artifice and cunning; 
as on spiders, some of which weave a sort of net to entrap 
and destroy whatever falls into it, others sit on the watch 
unobserved to fall on their prey and devour it. The naker 
by the Greeks called Pinna has a kind of confedera 
cy with the prawn for procuring food. It has two large 
shells open, into which when the little fishes swim, the 
naker, having notice given by the bite of the prawn, closes 
them immediately. Thus, these little animals, though of 
different kinds, seek their food in common ; in which it 
is matter of wonder whether they associate by any agree 
ment, or are naturally joined together from their begin 

There is some cause to admire also the provision of nat 
ure in the case of those aquatic animals which are gener 
ated on land, such as crocodiles, river-tortoises, and a cer 
tain kind of serpents, which seek the water as soon as they 
are able to drag themselves along. We frequently put 
duck-eggs under hens, by which, as by their true mothers, 
the ducklings are at first hatched and nourished ; but When 
they see the water, they forsake them and run to it, as to 

1 The proboscis of the elephant is frequently called a hand, because it 
is as useful to him as one. "They breathe, drink, aiul smell, with what 
may not be improperly called a hand," says Pliny, bk. viii. c. 10. DAVIS. 


their natural abode : so strong is the impression of nature 
in animals for their own preservation. 

XLIX. I have read that there is a bird called Platalea 
(the shoveller), that lives by watching those fowls which 
dive into the sea for their prey, and when they return with 
it, he squeezes their heads with his beak till they drop it, 
and then seizes on it himself. It is said likewise that he is 
in the habit of filling his stomach with shell-fish, and when 
they are digested by the heat which exists in the stomach, 
they cast them up, and then pick out what is proper nour 
ishment. The sea-frogs, they say, are wont to cover them 
selves with sand, and moving near the water, the fishes 
strike at them, as at a bait, and are themselves taken and 
devoured by the frogs. Between the kite and the crow 
there is a kind of natural war, and wherever the one finds 
the eggs of the other, he breaks them. 

But who is there who can avoid being struck with won 
der at that which has been noticed by Aristotle, who has 
enriched us with so many valuable remarks? When the 
cranes 1 pass the sea in search of warmer climes, they fly 
in the form of a triangle. By the first angle they repel 
the resisting air ; on each side, their wings serve as oars 
to facilitate their flight ; and the basis of their triangle is 
assisted by the wind in their stern. Those which are be 
hind rest their necks and heads on those which precede ; 
and as the leader has not the same relief, because he has 
none to lean upon, he at length flies behind that he may 
also rest, while one of those which have been eased suc 
ceeds him, and through the whole flight each regularly 
takes his turn. 

I could produce many instances of this kind ; but these 
may suffice. Let us now proceed to things more famil 
iar to us. The care of beasts for their own preservation, 
their circumspection while feeding, and their manner of 
taking rest in their lairs, are generally known, but still 
they are greatly to be admired. 

L. Dogs cure themselves by a vomit, the Egyptian ibis 
by a purge ; from whence physicians have lately I mean 
but few ages since greatly improved their art. It is re- 

1 The passage of Aristotle's works to which Cicero here alludes is 
entirely lost ; but Plutarch gives a similar account. 


ported that panthers, which in barbarous countries are 
taken with poisoned flesh, have a certain remedy 1 that 
preserves them from dying; and that in Crete, the wild 
goats, when they are wounded with poisoned arrows, seek 
for an herb called dittany, which, when they have tasted, 
the arrows (they say) drop from their bodies. It is said 
also that deer, before they fawn, purge themselves with a 
little herb called hartswort. 2 Beasts, when they receive 
any hurt, or fear it, have recourse to their natural arms : 
the bull to his horns, the boar to his tusks, and the lion to 
his teeth. Some take to flight, others hide themselves; 
the cuttle-fish vomits 3 blood; the cramp-fish benumbs; 
and there are many animals that, by their intolerable 
stink, oblige their pursuers to retire. 

LI. But that the beauty of the world might be eternal, 
great care has been taken by the providence of the Gods 
to perpetuate the different kinds of animals, and vegeta 
bles, and trees, and all those things which sink deep into 
the earth, and are contained in it by their roots and 
trunks; in order to which every individual has within it 
self such fertile seed that many are generated from one ; 
and in vegetables this seed is enclosed in the heart of their 
fruit, but in such abundance that men may plentifully feed 
on it, and the earth be always replanted. 

With regard to animals, do we not see how aptly they 
are formed for the propagation of their species ? Nature 
for this end created some males and some females. Their 
parts are perfectly framed for generation, and they have 
a wonderful propensity to copulation. When the seed 
has fallen on the matrix, it draws almost all the nour 
ishment to itself, by which the foetus is formed ; but as 
soon as it is discharged from thence, if it is an animal that 
is nourished by milk, almost all the food of the mother 
turns into milk, and the animal, without any direction but 
by the pure instinct of nature, immediately hunts for the 

1 Balbus does not tell us the remedy which the panther makes use 
of; but Pliny is not quite so delicate : he says, excrementis hominis sibi 

" Aristotle says they purge themselves with this herb after they fawn. 
Pliny says both before and after. 

3 The cuttle-fish has a bag at its neck, the black blood of which the 
Romans used for ink. It was called atramentum. 


teat, and is there fed with plenty. What makes it evi 
dently appear that there is nothing in this fortuitous, but 
the work of a wise and foreseeing nature, is, that those 
females which bring forth many young, as sows and 
bitches, have many teats, and those which bear a small 
number have but few. What tenderness do beasts show 
in preserving and raising up their young till they are 
able to defend themselves ! They say, indeed, that fish, 
when they have spawned, leave their eggs ; but the wa 
ter easily supports them, and produces the young fry in 

LIT. It is said, likewise, that tortoises and crocodiles, 
when they have laid theiij eggs on the land, only cover 
them with earth, and then leave them, so that their young 
are hatched and brought up without assistance ; but fowls 
and other birds seek for quiet places to lay in, where they 
build their nests in the softest manner, for the surest pres 
ervation of their eggs; which, when they have hatched, 
they defend from the cold by the warmth of their wings, 
or screen them from the sultry heat of the sun. When 
their young begin to be able to use their wings, they at 
tend and instruct them ; and then their cares are at an 

Human art and industry are indeed necessary towards 
the preservation and improvement of certain animals and 
vegetables ; for there are several of both kinds which 
would perish without that assistance. There are likewise 
innumerable facilities (being different in different places) 
supplied to man to aid him in his civilization, and in pro 
curing abundantly what he requires. The Nile waters 
Egypt, and after having overflowed and covered it the 
whole summer, it retires, and leaves the fields softened 
and manured for the reception of seed. The Euphrates 
fertilizes Mesopotamia, into which, as we may say, it car 
ries yearly new fields. 1 The Indus, which is the largest of 
all rivers, 2 not only improves and cultivates the ground, 

1 The Euphrates is said to carry into Mesopotamia a large quantity 
of citrons, with which it corers the fields. 

2 Q. Curtius, and some other authors, say the Ganges is the largest 
river in India ; but Ammianus Marcellinus concurs with Cicero in call 
ing the river Indus the largest of all rivers. 


but sows it also; for it is said to carry with it a great 
quantity of grain. I could mention many other countries 
remarkable for something singular, and many fields, which 
are, in their own natures, exceedingly fertile. 

LIII. But how bountiful is nature that has provided for 
us such an abundance of various and delicious food ; and 
this varying with the different seasons, so that we may be 
constantly pleased with change, and satisfied with abun 
dance ! Plow seasonable and useful to man, to beasts, and 
even to vegetables, are the Etesian winds 1 she has bestow 
ed, which moderate intemperate heat, and render naviga 
tion more sure and speedy ! Many things must be omitted 
on a subject so copious and still a great deal must be 
said for it is impossible to relate the great utility of riv 
ers, the flux and reflux of the sea, the mountains clothed 
with grass and trees, the salt-pits remote from the sea- 
coasts, the earth replete with salutary medicines, or, in 
short, the innumerable designs of nature necessary for 
sustenance and the enjoyment of life. We must not for 
get the vicissitudes of day and night, ordained for the 
health of animated beings, giving them a time to labor 
and a time to rest. Thus, if we every way examine the 
universe, it is apparent, from the greatest reason, that the 
whole is admirably governed by a divine providence for 
the safety and preservation of all beings. 

If it should be asked for whose sake this mighty fabric 
was raised, shall we say for trees and other vegetables, 
which, though destitute of sense, are supported by nature? 
That would be absurd. Is it for beasts? Nothing can 
be less probable than that the Gods should have taken 
such pains for beings void of speech and understanding. 
For whom, then, will any one presume to say that the 
world was made? Undoubtedly for reasonable beings; 
these are the Gods and men, who are certainly the most 
perfect of all beings, as nothing is equal to reason. It is 
therefore credible that the universe, and all things in it, 
were made for the Gods and for men. 

But we may yet more easily comprehend that the Gods 
have taken great care of the interests and welfare of men, 

1 These Etesian winds return periodically once a year, and blow at 
certain seasons, and for a certain time. 


if we examine thoroughly into the structure of the body, 
and the form and perfection of human nature. There are 
three things absolutely necessary for the support of life 
to eat, to drink, and to breathe. For these operations the 
mouth is most aptly framed, which, by the assistance of 
the nostrils, draws in the more air. 

LIV. The teeth are there placed to divide and grind the 
food. 1 The fore -teeth, being sharp and opposite to each 
other, cut it asunder, and the hind-teeth (called the grind 
ers) chew it, in which office the tongue seems to assist. 
At the root of the tongue is the gullet, which receives 
whatever is swallowed : it touches the tonsils on each 
side, and terminates at the interior extremity of the palate. 
When, by the motions of the tongue, the food is forced 
into this passage, it descends, and those parts of the gullet 
which are below it are dilated, and those above are con 
tracted. There is another passage, called by physicians 
the rough artery, 2 which reaches to the lungs, for the en 
trance and return of the air we breathe ; and as its orifice 
is joined to the roots of the tongue a little above the part 
to which the gullet is annexed, it is furnished with a sort 
of coverlid, 3 lest, by the accidental falling of any food into 
it, the respiration should be stopped. 

As the stomach, which is beneath the gullet, receives the 
meat and drink, so the lungs and the heart draw in the 
air from without. The stomach is wonderfully composed, 
consisting almost wholly of nerves ; it abounds with mem 
branes and fibres, and detains what it receives, whether 
solid or liquid, till it is altered and digested. It some 
times contracts, sometimes dilates. It blends and mixes 
the food together, so that it is easily concocted and di 
gested by its force of heat, and by the animal spirits is 
distributed into the other parts of the body. 

LV. As to the lungs, they are of a soft and spongy sub 
stance, which renders them the most commodious for res- 

1 Some read mollitur, and some molitur; the latter of which P. Ma- 
nucius justly prefers, from the verb 7/10/0, inolis; from whence, says he, 
molares denies, the grinders. 

8 The weasand, or windpipe. 

3 The epiglottis, which is a cartilaginous flap in the shape of a tongue, 
and therefore called so. 


piration ; they alternately dilate and contract to receive 
and return the air, that what is the chief animal suste 
nance may be always fresh. The juice, 1 by which we are 
nourished, being separated from the rest of the food, passes 
the stomach and intestines to the liver, through open and 
direct passages, which lead from the mesentery to the 
gates of the liver (for so they call those vessels at the en 
trance of it). There are other passages from thence, 
through which the food has its course when it has passed 
the liver. When the bile, and those humors which pro 
ceed from the kidneys, are separated from the food, the re 
maining part turns to blood, and flows to those vessels at 
the entrance of the liver to which all the passages adjoin. 
The chyle, being conveyed from this place through them 
into the vessel called the hollow vein, is mixed together, 
and, being already digested and distilled, passes into the 
heart; and from the heart it is communicated through a 
great number of veins to every part of the body. 

It is not difficult to describe how the gross remains are 
detruded by the motion of the intestines, which contract 
and dilate ; but that must be declined, as too indelicate 
for discourse. Let us rather explain that other wonder of 
nature, the air, which is drawn into the lungs, receives 
heat both by that already in and by the coagitation of the 
lungs ; one part is turned back by respiration, and the oth 
er is received into a place called the ventricle of the heart. 2 
There is another ventricle like it annexed to the heart, into 
which the blood flows from the liver through the hollow 
vein. Thus by one ventricle the blood is diffused to the 
extremities through the veins, and by the other the breath 
is communicated through the arteries ; and there are such 
numbers of both dispersed through the whole body that 
they manifest a divine art. 

Why need I speak of the bones, those supports of the 
body, whose joints are so wonderfully contrived for sta 
bility, and to render the limbs complete with regard to mo 
tion and to every action of the body ? Or need I mention 

1 Cicero is here giving the opinion of the ancients concerning the pas 
sage of the chyle till it is converted to blood. 

3 What Cicero here calls the ventricles of the heart nre likewise called 
auricles, of which there is t'le right and left. 


tho nerves, by which the limbs are governed their many 
interweavings, and their proceeding from the heart, 1 from 
whence, like the veins and arteries, they have their origin, 
and are distributed through the whole corporeal frame? 

LVI. To this skill of nature, and this care of providence, 
so diligent and so ingenious, many reflections may be add 
ed, which show what valuable things the Deity has be 
stowed on man. He has made us of a stature tall and up 
right, in order that we might behold the heavens, and so 
arrive at the knowledge of the Gods; for men are not 
simply to dwell here as inhabitants of the earth, but to be, 
as it were, spectators of the heavens and the stars, which 
is a privilege not granted to any other kind of animated 
beings. The senses, which are the interpreters and mes 
sengers of things, are placed in the head, as in a tower, 
and wonderfully situated for their proper uses; for the 
eyes, being in the highest part, have the office of sentinels, 
in discovering to us objects ; and the ears are convenient 
ly placed in a high part of the person, being appointed to 
receive sound, which naturally ascends. The nostrils have 
the like situation, because all scent likewise ascends ; and 
they have, with great reason, a near vicinity to the mouth, 
because they assist us in judging of meat and drink. The 
taste, which is to distinguish the quality of what we take, 
is in that part of the mouth where nature has laid open 
a passage for what we eat and drink. But the touch is 
equally diffused through the whole body, that we may not 
receive any blows, or the too rigid attacks of cold and 
heat, without feeling them. And as in building the archi 
tect averts from the eyes and nose of the master those 
things which must necessarily be offensive, so has nature 
removed far from our senses what is of the same kind in 
the human body. 

LVII. What artificer but nature, whose direction is in 
comparable, could have exhibited so much ingenuity in the 
formation of the senses? In the first place, she has cov 
ered and invested the eyes with the finest membranes, 
which she hath made transparent, that we may see through 

1 The Stoics and Peripatetics said that the nerves, veins, nnd arteries 
come directly from the heart. According to the anatomy of the mod 
erns, they come from the brain. 


them, and firm in their texture, to preserve the eyes. She 
has made them slippery and movable, that they might 
avoid what would offend them, and easily direct the sight 
wherever they will. The actual organ of sight, which is 
called the pupil, is so smalt that it can easily shun what 
ever might be hurtful to it. The eyelids, which are their 
coverings, are soft and smooth, that they may not injure 
the eyes; and are made to shut at the apprehension of any 
accident, or to open at pleasure ; and these movements 
nature has ordained to be made in an instant : they are 
fortified with a sort of palisade of hairs, to keep off what 
may be noxious to them when open, and to be a fence to 
their repose when sleep closes them, and allows them to 
rest as if they were wrapped up in a case. Besides, they 
are commodiously hidden and defended by eminences on 
every side ; for on the upper part the eyebrows turn aside 
the perspiration which falls from the head and forehead ; 
the cheeks beneath rise a little, so as to protect them on 
the lower side ; and the nose is placed between them as a 
wall of separation. 

The hearing is always open, for that is a sense of which 
we are in need even while we are sleeping; and the mo 
ment that any sound is admitted by it we are awakened 
even from sleep. It has a winding passage, lest anything 
should slip into it, as it might if it were straight and sim 
ple. Nature also hath taken the same precaution in mak 
ing there a viscous humor, that if any little creatures should 
endeavor to creep in, they might stick in it as in bird 
lime. The ears (by which we mean the outward part) 
are made prominent, to cover and preserve the hearing, 
lest the sound should be dissipated and escape before the 
sense is affected. Their entrances are hard and horny, 
and their form winding, because bodies of this kind better 
return and increase the sound. This appears in the harp, 
lute, or horn j 1 and from all tortuous and enclosed places 
sounds are returned stronger. 

The nostrils, in like manner, are ever open, because we 
have a continual use for them ; and their entrances also 
are rather narrow, lest anything noxious should enter 

1 The author means nil musical instruments, whether string or wind 
instruments, which are hollow and tortuous. 


them; and they have always a humidity necessary for 
the repelling dust and many other extraneous bodies. 
The taste, having the mouth for an enclosure, is admira 
bly situated, both in regard to the use we make of it and 
to its security. 

LVIII. Besides, every human sense is much more ex 
quisite than those of brutes ; for our eyes, in those arts 
which come under their judgment, distinguish with great 
nicety ; as in painting, sculpture, engraving, and in the 
gesture and motion of bodies. They understand the beau 
ty, proportion, and, as I may so term it, the becomiugness 
of colors and figures; they distinguish things of greater 
importance, even virtues and vices ; they know whether a 
man is angry or calm, cheerful or sad, courageous or cow 
ardly, bold or timorous. 

The judgment of the ears is not less admirably and 
scientifically contrived with regard to vocal and instru 
mental music. They distinguish the variety of sounds, 
the measure, the stops, the different sorts of voices, the 
treble and the base, the soft and the harsh, the sharp and 
the flat, of which human ears only are capable to judge. 
There is likewise great judgment in the smell, the taste, 
and the touch ; to indulge and gratify which senses more 
arts have been invented than I could wish : it is apparent 
to what excess we have arrived in the composition of our 
perfumes, the preparation of our food, and the enjoyment 
of corporeal pleasures. 

LIX. Again, he who does not perceive the soul and 
mind of man, his reason, prudence, and discernment, to 
be the work of a divine providence, seems himself to be 
destitute of those faculties. While I am on this subject, 
Cotta, I wish I had your eloquence : how would you illus 
trate so fine a subject ! You would show the great ex 
tent of the understanding ; how we collect our ideas, and 
join those which follow to those which precede; establish 
principles, draw consequences, define things separately, 
and comprehend them with accuracy ; from whence you 
demonstrate how great is the power of intelligence and 
knowledge, which is such that even God himself has no 
qualities more admirable. How valuable (though you 
Academics despise and even deny that we have il) is our 


knowledge of exterior objects, from the perception of the 
senses joined to the application of the mind; by which 
we see in what relation one thing stands to another, and 
by the aid of which we have invented those arts which 
are necessary for the support and pleasure of life. How 
charming is eloquence ! How divine that mistress of the 
universe, as you call it ! It teaches us what we were ig 
norant of, and makes us capable of teaching what we have 
learned. By this we exhort others ; by this we persuade 
them ; by this we comfort the afflicted ; by this we de 
liver the affrighted from their fear ; by this we moderate 
excessive joy ; by this we assuage the passions of lust and 
anger; This it is which bound men by the chains of 
right and law, formed the bonds of civil society, and made 
us quit a wild and savage life. 

And it will appear incredible, unless you carefully ob 
serve the facts, how complete the work of nature is in 
giving us the use of speech ; for, first of all, there is an 
artery from the lungs to the bottom of the mouth, through 
which the voice, having its original principle in the mind, 
is transmitted. Then the tongue is placed in the mouth, 
bounded by the teeth. It softens and modulates the voice, 
which would otherwise be confusedly uttered ; and, by 
pushing it to the teeth and other parts of the mouth, 
makes the sound distinct and articulate. We Stoics, there 
fore, compare the tongue to the bow of an instrument, the 
teeth to the strings, and the nostrils to the sounding-board. 

LX. But how commodious are the hands which nature 
has given to man, and how beautifully do they minister to 
many arts ! For, such is the flexibility of the joints, that 
our fingers are closed and opened without any difficulty. 
With their help, the hand is formed for painting, carving, 
and engraving ; for playing on stringed instruments, and 
on the pipe. These are matters of pleasure. There are 
also works of necessity, such as tilling the ground, build 
ing houses, making cloth and habits, and working in brass 
and iron. It is the business of the mind to invent, the 
senses to perceive, and the hands to execute ; so that if we 
have buildings, if we are clothed, if we live in safety, if 
we have cities, walls, habitations, and temples, it is to the 
hands we owe them. 


By our labor, that is, by our hands, variety and plenty 
of food are provided ; for, without culture, many fruits, 
which serve either for pi*esent or future consumption, 
would not be produced; besides, we feed on flesh, fish, 
and fowl, catching some, and bringing up others. We 
subdue four-footed beasts for our carriage, whose speed 
and strength supply our slowness and inability. On some 
we put burdens, on others yokes. We convert the sagac 
ity of the elephant and the quick scent of the dog to our 
own advantage. Out of the caverns of the earth we dig 
iron, a thing entirely necessaiy for the cultivation of the 
ground. We discover the hidden veins of copper, silver, 
and gold, advantageous for our use and beautiful as orna 
ments. We cut down trees, and use every kind of wild 
and cultivated timber, not only to make fire to warm us 
and dress our meat, but also for building, that we may 
have houses to defend us from the heat and cold. With 
'timber likewise we build ships, which bring us from all 
parts every commodity of life. We are the only animals 
who, from our knowledge of navigation, can manage what 
nature has made the most violent the sea and the winds. 
Thus we obtain from the ocean great numbers of prof 
itable things. We are the absolute masters of what the 
earth produces. We enjoy the mountains and the plains. 
The rivers and the lakes are ours. We sow the seed, 
and plant the trees. We fertilize the earth by overflow 
ing it. We stop, direct, and turn the rivers : in short, by 
our hands we endeavor, by our various operations in this 
world, to make, as it were, another natui'e. 

LXI. But what shall I say of human reason ? Has it 
not even entered the heavens? Man alone of all animals 
has observed the courses of the stars, their risings and 
settings. By man the day, the month, the year, is deter 
mined. He foresees the eclipses of the sun and moon, and 
foretells them to futurity, marking their greatness, dura 
tion, and precise time. From the contemplation of these 
things the mind extracts the knowledge of the Gods a 
knowledge which produces piety, with which is connected 
justice, and all the other virtues; from which arises a life 
of felicity, inferior to that of the Gods in no single partic 
ular, except in immortality, which is not absolutely neces- 



sary to happy living. In explaining these things, I think 
that I have sufficiently demonstrated the superiority of 
man to other animated beings; from whence we should 
infer that neither the form and position of his limbs nor 
that strength of mind and understanding could possibly 
be the effect of chance. 

LXII. I am now to prove, by way of conclusion, thnt 
every thing in this world of use to us was made designed 
ly for us. 

First of all, the universe was made for the Gods and 
men, and all things therein were prepared and provided 
for our service. For the world is the common habitation 
or city of the Geds and men ; for they are the only rea 
sonable beings : they alone live by justice and law. As, 
therefore, it must be presumed the cities of Athens and 
Lacedaemon were built for the Athenians and Lacedaemo 
nians, and as everything there is said to belong to those 
people, so everything in the universe may with propriety 
be said to belong to the Gods and men, and to them alone. 

In the next place, though the revolutions of the sun, 
moon, and all the stars are necessary for the cohesion of 
the universe, yet may they be considered also as objects 
designed for the view and contemplation of man. There 
is no sight less apt to satiate the eye, none more beautiful, 
or more worthy to employ our reason and penetration. 
By measuring their courses we find the different seasons, 
their durations and vicissitudes, which, if they are known 
to men alone, we must believe were made only for their 

Does the earth bring forth fruit and grain in such 
excessive abundance and variety for men or for brutes ? 
The plentiful and exhilarating fruit of the vine and the 
olive-tree are entirely useless to beasts. They know not 
the time for sowing, tilling, or for reaping in season and 
gathering in the fruits of the earth, or for laying up and 
preserving their stores. Man alone has the care and ad 
vantage of these things. 

LXIII. Thus, as the lute and the pipe were made for 
those, and those only, who are capable of playing on them, 
so it must be allowed that the produce of the earth was 
designed for those only who make use of them; and 


though some beasts may rob us of a small part, it does 
not follow that the earth produced it also for them. Men 
do not store up corn for mice and ants, but for their 
wives, their children, and their families. Beasts, there 
fore, as I said before, possess it by stealth, but their mas 
ters openly and freely. It is for us, therefore, that nature 
hath provided this abundance. Can there be any doubt 
that this plenty and variety of fruit, which delight not 
only the taste, but the smell and sight, was by nature in 
tended for men only ? Beasts are so far from being par 
takers of this design, that we see that even they them 
selves were made for man; for of what utility would 
sheep be, unless for their wool, which, when dressed and 
woven, serves us for clothing? For they are not capa 
ble of anything, not even of procuring their own food, 
without the care and assistance of man. The fidelity of 
the dog, his affectionate fawning on his master, his aver 
sion to strangers, his sagacity in finding game, and his 
vivacity in pursuit of it, what do these qualities denote 
but that he was created for our use ? Why need I men 
tion oxen ? We perceive that their backs were not form 
ed for carrying burdens, but their necks were naturally 
made for the yoke, and their strong broad shoulders to 
draw the plough. In the Golden Age, which poets speak 
of, they were so greatly beneficial to the husbandman in 
tilling the fallow ground that no violence was ever offered 
them, and it was even thought a crime to eat them : 

The Iron Age began the fatal trade 
Of blood, and hammer'd the destructive blade ; 
Then men began to make the ox to bleed, 
And on the tamed and docile beast to feed. 1 

LXIV. It would take a long time to relate the advan 
tages which we receive from mules and asses, which un 
doubtedly were designed for our use. What is the swine 
good for but to eat? whose life, Chrysippus says, was 
given it but as salt* to keep it from putrefying ; and as it 

1 The Latin version of Cicero is a translation from the Greek of 

2 Chrysippus's meaning is, that the swine is so inactive and slothful a 
beast that life seems to be of no use to it but to keep it from putrefac- 
tiun, as salt keeps dead flesh. 


is proper food for man, nature hath made no animal more 
fruitful. What a multitude of birds and fishes are taken 
by the art and contrivance of man only, and which are so 
delicious to our taste that one would be tempted some 
times to believe that this Providence which watches over 
us was an Epicurean ! Though we think there are soim- 
birds the alites and oscines, 1 as our augurs call them 
which were made merely to foretell events. 

The large savage beasts we take by hunting, partly for 
food, partly to exercise ourselves in imitation of martial 
discipline, and to use those we can tarne and instruct, as 
elephants, or to extract remedies for our diseases and 
wounds, as we do from certain roots and herbs, the virtues 
of which are known by long use and experience. Repre 
sent to yourself the whole earth and seas as if before your 
eyes. You will see the vast and fertile plains, the thick, 
shady mountains, the immense pasturage for cattle, and 
ships sailing over the deep with incredible celerity; nor 
are our discoveries only on the face of the earth, but in 
its secret recesses there are many useful things, which be 
ing made for man, by man alone are discovered. 

LXV. Another, and in my opinion the strongest, proof 
that the providence of the Gods takes care of us is divina 
tion, which both of you, perhaps, will attack ; you, Cotta, 
because Carneades took pleasure in inveighing against the 
Stoics ; and you, Velleius, because there is nothing Epi 
curus ridicules so much as the prediction of events. Yet 
the truth of divination appears in many places, on many 
occasions, often in private, but particularly in public con 
cerns. We receive many intimations from the foresight 
and presages of augurs and auspices ; from oracles, proph 
ecies, dreams, and prodigies ; and it often happens that 
by these' means events have proved happy to men, and 
imminent dangers have been avoided. This knowledge, 
therefore call it either a kind of transport, or an art, or 
a natural faculty is certainly found only in men, and is a 
gift from the immortal Gods. If these proofs, when taken 

1 Ales, in the general signification, is any large bird ; and oscinis is 
any singing bird. But they here mean those birds which are used in 
augury: alites are the birds whose flight was observed by the nngurs, 
and oscines the birds from whose voices they augured. 


separately, should make no impression upon your mind, 
yet, when collected together, they must certainly affect 

Besides, the Gods not only provide for mankind univer 
sally, but for particular men. You may bring this univer 
sality to gradually a smaller number, and again you may 
reduce that smaller number to individuals. 

LXVI. For if the reasons which I have given prove to 
all of us that the Gods take care of all men, in every coun 
try, in every part of the world separate from our conti 
nent, they take care of those who dwell on the same land 
with us, from east to west ; and if they regard those who 
inhabit this kind of great island, which we call the globe 
of the earth, they have the like regard for those who pos 
sess the parts of this island Europe, Asia, and Africa; 
and therefore they favor the parts of these parts, as Rome, 
Athens, Sparta, and Rhodes ; and particular men of these 
cities, separate from the whole ; as Curius, Fabricius, Cor- 
uncanius, in the war with Pyrrhus; in the first Punic war, 
Calatinus, Duillius, Metellus, Lutatius ; in the second, 
Maximus, Marcellus, Africanus ; after these, Paullus, Grac 
chus, Cato; and in our fathers' times, Scipio, Lrelius. 
Rome also and Greece have produced many illustrious 
men, who we cannot believe were so without the assistance 
of the Deity ; which is the reason that the poets, Homer 
in particular, joined their chief heroes Ulysses, Agamem 
non, Diomedes, Achilles to certain Deities, as companions 
in their adventures and dangers. Besides, the frequent 
appearances of the Gods, as I have before mentioned, de 
monstrate their regard for cities and particular men. This 
is also apparent indeed from the foreknowledge of events, 
which we receive either sleeping or waking. We are like 
wise forewarned of many things by the entrails of victims, 
by presages, and many other means, which have been long 
observed with such exactness as to produce an art of divi 

There never, therefore, was a great man without divine 
inspiration. If a storm should damage the corn or vine 
yard of a person, or any accident should deprive him of 
some conveniences of life, we should not judge from thence 
that the Deity hates or neglects him. The Gods take care 


of great things, and disregard the small. But to truly 
great men all things ever happen prosperously ; as has 
been sufficiently asserted and proved by us Stoics, as well 
as by Socrates, the prince of philosophers, in his discourses 
on the infinite advantages arising from virtue. 

LXVII. This is almost the whole that hath occurred to 
my mind on the nature of the Gods, and what I thought 
proper to advance. Do you, Cotta, if I may advise, defend 
the same cause. Remember that in Rome you keep the 
first rank ; remember that you are Pontifex ; and as your 
school is at liberty to argue on which side you please, 1 do 
you rather take mine, and reason on it with that eloquence 
which you acquired by your rhetorical exercises, and which 
the Academy improved ; for it is a pernicious and impi 
ous custom to argue against the Gods, whether it be done 
seriously, or only in pretence and out of sport. 


I. WHEN Balbus had ended this discourse, then Cotta, 
with a smile, rejoined, You direct me too late which side 
to defend ; for during the course of your argument I was 
revolving in my mind what objections to make to what 
you were saying, not so much for the sake of opposition, 
as of obliging you to explain what I did not perfectly com 
prehend ; and as every one may use his own judgment, it 
is scarcely possible for me to think in every instance ex 
actly what you wish. 

You have no idea, O Cotta, said Velleius, how impatient 
I am to hear what you have to say. For since our friend 
Balbus was highly delighted with your discourse against 
Epicurus, I ought in my turn to be solicitous to hear what 
you can say against the Stoics ; and I therefore will give 
you my best attention, for I believe you are, as usual, well 
prepared for the engagement. 

I wish, by Hercules ! I were, replies Cotta ; for it is more 
difficult to dispute with Lucilius than it was with you. 

1 As the Academics doubted everything, it was indifferent to them 
which side of a question they took. 


Why so? says Velleius. Because, replies Cottn, your Ep- 
icuvus, in my opinion, does not contend strongly for the 
Gods: he only, for the sake of avoiding any unpopularity 
or punishment, is afraid to deny their existence ; for when 
he asserts that the Gods are wholly inactive and regard 
less of everything, and that they have limbs like ours, but 
make no use of them, he seems to jest with us, and to 
think it sufficient if he allows that there are beings of any 
kind happy and eternal. But with regard to Balbus, I 
suppose you observed how many things were said by him, 
whichj however false they may be, yet have a perfect co 
herence and connection ; therefore, my design, as I said, in 
opposing him, is not so much to confute his principles as 
to induce him to explain what I do not clearly understand : 
for which reason, Balbus, I will give you the choice, either 
to answer me every particular as I go on, or permit me 
to proceed without interruption. If you want any expla 
nation, replies Balbus, I would rather you would propose 
your doubts singly ; but if your intention is rather to con 
fute me than to seek instruction for yourself, it shall be as 
you please ; I will either answer you immediately on every 
point, or stay till you have finished your discourse. 

II. Very well, says Cotta; then let us proceed as our 
conversation shall direct. But before I enter on the sub 
ject, I have a word to say concerning myself; for I am 
greatly influenced by your authority, and your exhortation 
at the conclusion of your discourse, when you desired me 
to remember that I was Cotta and Pontifex ; by which I 
presume you intimated that I should defend the sacred 
rites and religion and ceremonies which we received from 
our ancestors. Most undoubtedly I always have, and al 
ways shall defend them, nor shall the arguments either of 
the learned or unlearned ever remove the opinions which 1 
have imbibed from them concerning the worship of the im 
mortal Gods. In matters of religion I submit to the rules 
of the high-priests, T. Coruncanius, P. Scipio, and P. Sca> 
vola ; not to the sentiments of Zeno, Cleanthes, or Chrysip- 
pus ; and I pay a greater regard to what C. Lailius, one of 
our augurs and wise men, has written concerning religion, 
in that noble oration of his, than to the most eminent of 
the Stoics : and as the whole religion of the Romans at 


first consisted in sacrifices and divination by birds, to 
which have since been added predictions, if the interpret 
ers 1 of the Sibylline oracle or the aruspices have foretold 
any event from portents and prodigies, I have ever thought 
that there was no point of all these holy things which de 
served to be despised. I have been even persuaded that 
Romulus, by instituting divination, and Numa, by estab 
lishing sacrifices, laid the foundation of Rome, which un 
doubtedly would never have risen to such a height of 
grandeur if the Gods had not been made propitious by 
this worship. These, Balbus, are my sentiments both as 
a priest and as Cotta. But you must bring me to your 
opinion by the force of your reason : for I have a right to 
demand from you, as a philosopher, a reason for the re 
ligion which you would hare me embrace. But I must 
believe the religion of our ancestors without any proof. 

III. What proof, says Balbus, do you require of me ? 
You have proposed, says Cotta, four articles. First of all, 
you undertook to prove that there " are Gods ;" secondly, 
" of what kind and character they are ;" thirdly, that " the 
universe is governed by them ;" lastly, that " they provide 
for the welfare of mankind in particular." Thus, if I re 
member rightly, you divided your discourse. Exactly so, 
replies Balbus ; but let us see what you require. 

Let us examine, says Cotta, every proposition. The first 
one that there are Gods is never contested but by the 
most impious of men ; nay, though it can never be rooted 
out of my mind, yet I believe it on the authority of our 
ancestors, and not on the proofs which you have brought. 
Why do you expect a proof from me, says Balbus, if you 
thoroughly believe it ? Because, says Cotta, I come to this 
discussion as if I had never thought of the Gods, or heard 
anything concerning them. Take me as a disciple wholly 
ignorant and unbiassed, and prove to me all the points 
which I ask. 

Begin, then, replies Balbus. I would first know, says 
Cotta, why you have been so long in proving the existence 
of the Gods, which you said was a point so very evident 
to all, that there was no need of any proof? In that, an- 

1 The keepers and interpreters of the Sibylline oracles were the Quin- 


swevs Balbus, I have followed your example, whom I have 
often observed, when pleading in the Forum, to load the 
judge with all the arguments which the nature of your 
cause would permit. This also is the practice of philoso 
phers, and I have a right to follow it. Besides, you may 
as well ask me why I look upon you with two eyes, since I 
can see you with one. 

IV. You shall judge, then, yourself, says Cotta, if this is 
a very just comparison ; for, when I plead, I do not dwell 
upon any point agreed to be self-evident, because long rea 
soning only serves to confound the clearest matters; be 
sides, though I might take this method in pleading, yet I 
should not make use of it in such a discourse as this, which 
requires the nicest distinction. And with regard to your 
making use of one eye only when you look on me, there is 
no reason for it, since together they have the same view; 
and since nature, to which you attribute wisdom, has been 
pleased to give us two passages by which we receive light. 
But the truth is, that it was because you did not think 
that the existence of the Gods was so evident as you could 
wish that you therefore brought so many proofs. It was 
sufficient for me to believe it on the tradition of our an 
cestors ; and since you disregard authorities, and appeal 
to reason, permit my reason to defend them against yours. 
The proofs on which you found the existence of the Gods 
tend only to render a proposition doubtful that, in ray 
opinion, is not so; I have not only retained in my memory 
the whole of these proofs, but even the order in which you 
proposed them. The first was, that when we lift up our 
eyes towards the heavens, we immediately conceive that 
there is some divinity that governs those celestial bodies; 
on which you quoted this passage 

Look up to the refulgent heaven above, 
Which all men call, unanimously, Jove ; 

intimating that we should invoke that as Jupiter, rather 
than our Capitoline Jove, 1 or that it is evident to the whole 
world that those bodies are Gods which Velleius and many 
others do not place even in the rank of animated beings. 

1 The popular name of Jupiter in Rome, being looked upon as defend 
er of the Capitol (in which he was placed), and stayer of the State. 



Another strong proof, in your opinion, was that the 
belief of the existence of the Gods was universal, and 
that mankind was daily more and more convinced of it. 
What ! should an affair of such importance be left to the 
decision of fools, who, by your sect especially, are called 
madmen ? 

V. But the Gods have appeared to us, as to Posthumius 
at the Lake Regillus, and to Vatienus in the Salarian Way: 
something you mentioned, too, I know not what, of a battle 
of the Locrians at Sagra. Do you believe that the Tyn- 
daridae, as you called them; that is, men sprung from men, 
and who were buried in LacedaBmon, as we learn from Ho 
mer, who lived in the next age do you believe, I say, that 
they appeared to Vatienus on the road mounted on white 
horses, without any servant to attend them, to tell the vic 
tory of the Romans to a country fellow rather than to M. 
Cato, who was at that time the chief person of the senate? 
Do you take that print of a horse's hoof which is now to 
be seen on a stone at Regillus to be made by Castor's 
horse ? Should you not believe, what is probable, that the 
souls of eminent men, such as the Tyndaridre, are divine 
and immortal, rather than that those bodies which had 
been reduced to ashes should mount on horses, and fight 
in an army ? If you say that was possible, you ought to 
show ho\v it is so, and not amuse us with fabulous old 
women's stories. 

Do you take these for fabulous stories? says Balbus. 
Is not the temple, built by Posthumius in honor of Castor 
and Pollux, to be seen in the Forum ? Is not the decree 
of the senate concerning Vatienus still subsisting ? As to 
the affair of Sagra, it is a common proverb among the 
Greeks ; when they would affirm anything strongly, they 
say " It is as certain as what passed at Sagra." Ought not 
such authorities to move you? You oppose me, replies 
Cotta, with stories, but I ask reasons of you. 1 ' 

VI. We are now to speak of predictions. No one can 
avoid what is to come, and, indeed, it is commonly useless 
to know it ; for it is a miserable case to be afflicted to no 
purpose, and not to have even the last, the common com- 

1 Some passages of the original are here wanting. Cotta continues 
speaking against the doctrine of the Stoics. 


fort, hope, which, according to your principles, none can 
have; for you say that fate governs all things, and call 
that fate which has been true from all eternity. What 
advantage, then, is the knowledge of futurity to us, or how 
does it assist us to guard against impending evils, since it 
will come inevitably? 

But whence comes that divination ? To whom is owing 
that knowledge from the entrails of beasts? Who first 
made observations from the voice of the crow? Who 
invented the Lots? 1 Not that I give no credit to these 
things, or that I despise Attius Navius's staff, which you 
mentioned ; but I ought to be informed how these things 
are understood by philosophers, especially as the diviners 
are often wrong in their conjectures. But physicians, you 
say, are likewise often mistaken. What comparison can 
there be between divination, of the origin of which we are 
ignorant, and physic, which proceeds on principles intel 
ligible to every one ? You believe that the Decii," in de 
voting themselves to death, appeased the Gods. How 
great, then, was the iniquity of the Gods that they could 
not be appeased but at the price of such noble blood ! 
That was the stratagem of generals such as the Greeks 
call ffTfiariiyrina, and it was a stratagem worthy such illus 
trious leaders, who consulted the public good even at the 
expense of their lives : they conceived rightly, what indeed 
happened, that if the general rode furiously upon the ene 
my, the whole army would follow his example. As to the 
voice of the Fauns, I never heard it. If you assure me 
that you have, I shall believe you, though I really know 
not what a Faun is. 

VII. I do not, then, O Balbus, from anything that you 
have said, perceive as yet that it is proved that there are 
Gods. I believe it, indeed, but not from any arguments of 
the Stoics. Cleanthes, you have said, attributes the idea 
that men have of the Gods to four causes. In the first 
place (as I have already sufficiently mentioned), to a fore- 

1 The word sortes is often used for the answers of the oracles, or, 
rather, for the rolls in which the answers were written. 

a Three of this eminent family sacrificed themselves for their country ; 
the father in the Latin war, the son in the Tuscan war, and the grandson 
in the war with Pyrrhus. 


knowledge of future events ; secondly, to tempests, and 
other shocks of nature ; thirdly, to the utility and plenty 
of things we enjoy ; fourthly, to the invariable order of the 
stars and the heavens. The arguments drawn from fore 
knowledge I have already answered. With regard to tem 
pests in the air, the sea, and the earth, I own that many 
people are affrighted by them, and imagine that the im 
mortal Gods are the authors of them. 

But the question is, not whether there are people who 
believe that there are Gods, but whether there are Gods 
or not. As to the two other causes of Cleanthes, one of 
which is derived from the great abundance of desirable 
things which we enjoy, the other from the invariable or 
der of the seasons and the heavens, I shall treat on them 
when I answer your discourse concerning the providence 
of the Gods a point, Balbus, upon which you have spoken 
at great length. I shall likewise defer till then examining 
the argument which you attribute to Chrysippus, that " if 
there is in nature anything which surpasses the power of 
man to produce, there must consequently be some being 
better than man." I shall also postpone, till we come to 
that part of my argument, your comparison of the world 
to a fine house, your observations on the proportion and 
harmony of the universe, and those smart, short reasons of 
Zeno which you quote; and I shall examine at the same 
time your reasons drawn from natural philosophy, con 
cerning that fiery force and that vital heat which you re 
gard as the principle of all things ; and I will investigate, 
in its proper place, all that you advanced the other day 
on the existence of the Gods, and on the sense and under 
standing which you attributed to the sun, the moon, and 
all the stars ; and I shall ask you this question over and 
over again, By what proofs are you convinced yourself 
there are Gods? 

VIII. I thought, says Balbus, that I had brought ample 
proofs to establish this point. But such is your manner 
of opposing, that, when you seem on the point of interro 
gating me, and when I am preparing to answer, you sud 
denly divert the discourse, and give me no opportunity to 
reply to you; and thus those most important points con 
cerning divination and fate are neglected which we Stoics 


have thoroughly examined, but which your school has only 
slightly touched upon. But they are not thought essen 
tial to the question in hand ; therefore, if you think prop 
er, do not confuse them together, that we in this discus 
sion may come to a clear explanation of the subject of our 
present inquiry. 

Very well, says Cotta. Since, then, you have divided 
the whole question into four parts, and I have said all that 
I had to say on the first, I will take the second into consid 
eration ; in which, when you attempted to show what the 
character of the Gods was, you seemed to me rather to 
prove that there are none; for you said that it was the 
greatest difficulty to draw our minds from the preposses 
sions of the eyes; but that as nothing is more excellent 
than the Deity, you did not doubt that the world was God, 
because there is nothing better in nature than the world, 
and so we may reasonably think it animated, or, rather, 
perceive it in our minds as clearly as if it were obvious to 
our eyes. 

Now, in what sense do you say there is nothing better 
than the world ? If you mean that there is nothing more 
beautiful, I agree with you ; that there is nothing more 
adapted to our wants, I likewise agree with you : but if 
you mean that nothing is wiser than the world, I am by 
no means of your opinion. Not that I find it difficult to 
conceive anything in my mind independent of my eyes ; 
on the contrary, the more I separate my mind from my 
eyes, the less I am able to comprehend your opinion. 

IX. Nothing is better than the world, you say. Nor 
is there, indeed, anything on earth better than the city of 
Rome ; do you think, therefore, that our city has a mind ; 
that it thinks and reasons ; or that this most beautiful city, 
being void of sense, is not preferable to an ant, because an 
ant has sense, understanding, reason, and memory? You 
should consider, Balbus, what ought to be allowed you, and 
not advance things because they please you. 

For that old, concise, and, as it seemed to you, acute syl 
logism of Zeno has been all which you have so much en 
larged upon in handling this topic: "That which reasons 
is superior to that which does not ; nothing is superior to 
the world ; therefore the world reasons." If yon would 


prove also that the world can very well read a book, fol 
low the example of Zenp, and say, " That which can read 
is better than that which cannot; nothing is better than 
the world ; the world therefore can read." After the same 
manner you may prove the world to be an orator, a mathe 
matician, a musician that it possesses all sciences, and, 
in short, is a philosopher. You have often said that God 
made all things, and that no cause can produce an effect 
unlike itself. From hence it will follow, not only that the 
world is animated, and is wise, but also plays upon the fid 
dle and the flute, because it produces men who play on 
those instruments. Zeno, therefore, the chief of your sect, 
advances no argument sufficient to induce us to think that 
the world reasons, or, indeed, that it is animated at all, and 
consequently none to think it a Deity ; though it may be 
said that there is nothing superior to it, as there is noth 
ing more beautiful, nothing more useful to us, nothing 
more adorned, and nothing more regular in its motions. 
But if the world, considered as one great whole, is not God, 
you should not surely deify, as you have done, that infinite 
multitude of stars which only form a part of it, and which 
so delight you with the regularity of their eternal courses ; 
not but that there is something truly wonderful and in 
credible in their regularity; but this regularity of mo 
tion, Balbus, may as well be ascribed to a natural as to a 
divine cause. 

X. What can be more regular than the flux and reflux 
of the Euripus at Chalcis, the Sicilian sea, and the violence 
of the ocean in those parts 1 

where the rapid tide 
Does Europe from the Libyan coast divide ? 

The same appears on the Spanish and British coasts. 
Must we conclude that some Deity appoints and directs 
these ebbings and Sowings to certain fixed times? Con 
sider, I pray, if everything which is regular in its motion 
is deemed divine, whether it will not follow that tertian 
and quartan agues must likewise be so, as their returns 
have the greatest regularity. These effects are to be ex 
plained by reason ; but, because you are unable to assign 
any, you have recourse to a Deity as your last refuge. 
1 The Straits of Gibraltar. 


The arguments of Chrysippus appeared to you of great 
weight; a man undoubtedly of great quickness and sub 
tlety (I call those quick who have a sprightly turn of 
thought, and those subtle whose minds are seasoned by use 
as their hands are by labor) : "If," says he, "there is any 
thing which is beyond the power of man to produce, the 
being who produces it is better than man. Man is unable 
to make what is in the world ; the being, therefore, that 
could do it is superior to man. What being is there but 
a God superior to man ? Therefore there is a God." 

These arguments are founded on the same erroneous 
principles as Zeno's, for he does not define what is meant 
by being better or more excellent, or distinguish between 
an intelligent cause and a natural cause. Chrysippus adds, 
" If there are no Gods, there is nothing better than man ; 
but we cannot, without the highest arrogance, have this 
idea of ourselves." Let us grant that it is arrogance in 
man to think .himself better than the world ; but to com 
prehend that he has understanding and reason, and that in 
Orion and Canicula there is neither, is no arrogance, but 
an indication of good sense. " Since we suppose," contin 
ues he, " when we see a beautiful house, that it was built 
for the master, and not for mice, we should likewise judge 
that the world is the mansion of the Gods." Yes, if I be 
lieved that the Gods built the world ; but not if, as I be 
lieve, and intend to prove, it is the work of nature. 

XI. Socrates, in Xenophon, asks, " Whence had man his 
understanding, if there was none in the world ?" And I 
ask, Whence had we speech, harmony, singing ; unless we 
think it is the sun conversing with the moon when she ap 
proaches near it, or that the world forms an harmonious 
concert, as Pythagoras imagines? This, Balbus, is the ef 
fect of nature ; not of that nature which proceeds artifi 
cially, as Zeno says, and the character of which I shall 
presently examine into, but a nature which, by its own 
proper motions and mutations, modifies everything. 

For I readily agree to what you said about the harmony 
and general agreement of nature, which you pronounced 
to be firmly bound and united together, as it were, by ties 
of blood : but I do not approve of what you added, that 
" it could not possibly be so, unless it were so united by 


one divine spirit." On the contrary, the whole subsists 
by the power of nature, independently of the Gods, and 
there is a kind of sympathy (as the Greeks call it) which 
joins together all the parts of the universe ; and the greater 
that is in its own power, the less is it necessary to have 
recourse to a divine intelligence. 

XII. But how will you get rid of the objections which 
Carneades made ? " If," says he, " there is no body immor 
tal, there is none eternal ; but there is no body immortal, 
nor even indivisible, or that cannot be separated and dis 
united ; and as every animal is in its nature passive, so there 
is not one which is not subject to the impressions of ex 
traneous bodies; none, that is to say, which can avoid the 
necessity of enduring and suffering: and if every animal 
is mortal, there is none immortal; so, likewise, if every an 
imal may be cut up and divided, there is none indivisible, 
none eternal, but all are liable to be affected by, and com 
pelled to submit to, external power. Every, animal, there 
fore, is necessarily mortal, dissoluble, and divisible." 

For as there is no wax, no silver, no brass which cannot 
be converted into something else, whatever is composed 
of wax, or silver, or brass may cease to be what it is. By 
the same reason, if all the elements are mutable, every body 
is mutable. 

Now, according to your doctrine, all the elements are 
mutable ; all bodies, therefore, are mutable. But if there 
were any body immortal, then all bodies would not be 
mutable. Every body, then, is mortal ; for every body is 
either water, air, fire, or earth, or composed of the four 
elements together, or of some of them. Now, there is not 
one of all these elements that does not perish ; for earthly 
bodies are fragile : water is so soft that the least shock 
will separate its parts, and fire and air yield to the least 
impulse, and are subject to dissolution ; besides, any of 
these elements perish when converted into another nature, 
as when water is formed from earth, the air from water, 
and the sky from air, and when they change in the same 
manner back again. Therefore, if there is nothing but 
what is perishable in the composition of all animals, there 
is no animal eternal. 

XIII. But, not to insist on these arguments, there is no 


animal to be found that had not a beginning, and will not 
have an end ; for every animal being sensitive, they are 
consequently all sensible of cold and heat, sweet and bit 
ter; nor can they have pleasing sensations without being 
subject to the contrary. As, therefore, they receive pleas 
ure, they likewise receive pain ; and whatever being is 
subject to pain must necessarily be subject to death. It 
must be allowed, therefore, that every animal is mortal. 

Besides, a being that is not sensible of pleasure or pain 
cannot have the essence of an animal ; if, then, on the one 
hand, every animal must be sensible of pleasure and pain, 
and if, on the other, every being that has these sensations 
cannot be immortal, we may conclude that as there is no 
animal insensible, there is none immortal. Besides, there 
is no animal without inclination and aversion an inclina 
tion to that which is agreeable to nature, and an aversion 
to the contrary : there are in the case of every animal 
some things which they covet, and others they reject. 
What they reject are repugnant to their nature, and con 
sequently would destroy them. Every animal, therefore, 
is inevitably subject to be destroyed. There are innu 
merable arguments to prove that whatever is sensitive is 
perishable ; for cold, heat, pleasure, pain, and all that af 
fects the sense, when they become excessive, cause de 
struction. Since, then, there is no animal that is not sen 
sitive, there is none immortal. 

XIV. The substance of an animal is either simple or 
compound ; simple, if it is composed only of earth, of fire, 
of air, or of water (and of such a sort of being we can 
form no idea) ; compound, if it is formed of different ele 
ments, which have each their proper situation, and have a 
natural tendency to it this element tending towards the 
highest parts, that towards the lowest, and another tow 
ards the middle. This conjunction may for some time 
subsist, but not forever ; for every element must return to 
its first situation. No animal, therefore, is eternal. 

But your school, Balbus, allows fire only to be the sole 
active principle; an opinion which I believe you derive 
from Heraclitus, whom some men understand in one sense, 
some in another : but since he seems unwilling to be un 
derstood, we will pass him by. You Stoics, then, say that 


fire is the universal principle of all things; that all living 
bodies cease to live on the extinction of that heat ; and 
that throughout all nature whatever is sensible of that 
heat lives and flourishes. Now, I cannot conceive that 
bodies should perish for want of heat, rather than for 
want of moisture or air, especially as they even die 
through excess of heat; so that the life of animals docs 
not depend more on fire than on the other elements. 

However, air and water have this quality in common 
with fire and heat. But let us see to what this tends. If 
I arn not mistaken, you believe that in all nature there is 
nothing but fire, which is self-animated. Why fire rather 
than air, of which the life of animals consists, and which is 
called from thence animaf the soul ? But how is it that 
you take it for granted that life is nothing but fire ? It 
seems more probable that it is a compound of fire and 
air. But if fire is self-animated, unmixed with any other 
element, it must be sensitive, because it renders our bodies 
sensitive; and the same objection which I just now made 
will arise, that whatever is sensitive must necessarily be 
susceptible of pleasure and pain, and whatever is sensible 
of pain is likewise subject to the approach of death ; 
therefore you cannot prove fire to be eternal. 

You Stoics hold that all fire has need of nourishment, 
without which it cannot possibly subsist; that the sun, 
moon, and all the stars are fed either with fresh or salt 
waters ; and the reason that Cleanthes gives why the sun 
is retrograde, and does not go beyond the tropics in the 
summer or winter, is that he may not be too far from his 
sustenance. This I shall fully examine hereafter ; but at 
present we may conclude that whatever may cease to be 
cannot of its own nature be eternal; that if fire wants sus 
tenance, it will cease to be, and that, therefore, fire is not 
of its own nature eternal. 

XV. After all, what kind of a Deity must that be who 

1 The common reading is, ex quo anima dicitur ; but Dr. Davis and 
M. Bouhier prefer animal, though they keep anima in the text, be 
cause our author says elsewhere, animurn ex anima dictum, Tusc. 1. 1. 
Cicero is not here to be accused of contradictions, for \ve are to consider 
that he speaks in the characters of other persons ; but there appears to 
be nothing in these two passages irreconcilable, and probably anima is 
the right word here. 


is not graced with one single virtue, if we should succeed 
in forming this idea of such a one? Must we not attrib 
ute prudence to a Deity? a virtue which consists in the 
knowledge of things good, bad, and indifferent. Yet 
what need has a being for the discernment of good and 
ill who neither has nor can have any ill? Of what use is 
reason to him? of what use is understanding? We men, 
indeed, find them useful to aid us in finding out things 
which are obscure by those which are clear to us; but 
nothing can be obscure to a Deity. As to justice, which 
gives to every one his own, it is not the concern of the 
Gods ; since that virtue, according to your doctrine, re 
ceived its birth from men and from civil society. Tem 
perance consists in abstinence from corporeal pleasures, 
and if such abstinence hath a place in heaven, so also 
must the pleasures abstained from. Lastly, if fortitude is 
ascribed to the Deity, how does it appear? In afflictions, 
in labor, in danger? None of these things can affect a 
God. How, then, can we conceive this to be a Deity that 
makes no use of reason, and is not endowed with any virtue? 

However, when I consider what is advanced by the 
Stoics, my contempt for the ignorant multitude vanishes. 
For these are their divinities. The Syrians worshipped a 
fish. The Egyptians consecrated beasts of almost every 
kind. The Greeks deified many men ; as Alabandus 1 at 
Alabaudre, Tcnes at Tenedos ; and all Greece pay divine 
honors to Leucothea (who was before called Ino), to her 
son Palaernon, to Hercules, to JEsculapius, and to the Tyn- 
darida3 ; our own people to Romulus, and to many oth 
ers, who, as citizens newly admitted into the ancient body, 
they imagine have been received into heaven. 

These arc the Gods of the illiterate. 

XVI. What are the notions of you philosophers? In 
what respect are they superior to these ideas? I shall 
pass them over ; for they are certainly very admirable. 
Let the world, then, be a Deity, for that, I conceive, is 
what you mean by 

The refulgent heaven above, 
Which all men call, unanimously, Jove. 

1 He is said to have led a colony from Greece into Caria, in Asia, and 
to have built a town, and called it after his own name, for which his 
countrymen paid him divine honors after his death. 


But why arc we to add many more Gods? What a 
multitude of them there is ! At least, it seems so to me; 
for every constellation, according to you, is a Deity : to 
some you give the name of beasts, as the goat, the scor 
pion, the bull, the lion ; to others the names of inanimate 
things, as the ship, the altar, the crown. 

But supposing these were to be allowed, how can the 
rest be granted, or even so much as understood ? When 
we call corn Ceres, and wine Bacchus, we make use of the 
common manner of speaking ; but do you think any one 
so mad as to believe that his food is a Deity ? With re 
gard to those who, you say, from having been men became 
Gods, I should be very willing to learn of you, either how 
it was possible formerly, or, if it had ever been, why is it 
not so now ? I do not conceive, as things are at present, 
how Hercules, 

Burn'd with fiery torches on Mount CEta, 
as Accius says, should rise, with the flames, 

To the eternal mansions of his father. 

Besides, Homer also says that Ulysses 1 met him in the 
shades below, among the other dead. 

But yet I should be glad to know which Hercules we 
should chiefly worship ; for they who have searched into 
those histories, which are bat little known, tell us of sev 
eral. The most ancient is he who fought with Apollo 
about the Tripos of Delphi, and is son of Jupiter and 
Lisyto ; and of the most ancient Jupiters too, for we find 
many Jupiters also in the Grecian chronicles. The second 
is the Egyptian Hercules, and is believed to be the son of 
Nilus, and to be the author of the Phrygian characters. 
The third, to whom they offered sacrifices, is one of the 

1 Our great author is under a mistake here. Homer does not say he 
met Hercules himself, but his Eirfw^ov, his "visionary likeness ;" and 
adds that he himself 

/uer' aOavaTourt Ofaiiai 

Ttpirerai fv 9a\iat t Ktu f\ei Ka\\ia<t>vpov"H{3riv, 
iratia Aior /le-jakoio Kai'HfJtjv \i>v<roireti\ov' 

which Pope translates 

A shadowy form, for high in heaven's abodes 
Himself resides, a God among the Gods; 
There, in the bright assemblies of the skies, 
He nectar quaffs, aud Hebe crowns his joys. 


Ids?i Dactyli. 1 The fourth is the son of Jupiter and Aste- 
ria, the sister of Latona, chiefly honored by the Tyrians, 
wlio pretend that Carthago 2 is his daugliter. The fifth, 
called Belua, is worshipped in India. The sixth is the 
son of Alcraena by Jupiter; but by the third Jupiter, for 
there are many Jupiters, as you shall soon see. 

XVII. Since this examination has led me so far, I will 
convince you that in matters of religion I have learned 
more from the pontifical rites, the customs of our ances 
tors, and the vessels of Numa, 3 which Laalius mentions in 
his little Golden Oration, than from all the learning of the 
Stoics ; for tell me, if I were a disciple of your school, 
what answer could I make to these questions? If there 
are Gods, are nymphs also Goddesses ? If they are God 
desses, are Pans and Satyrs in the same rank ? But they 
are not ; consequently, nymphs are not Goddesses. Yet 
they have temples publicly dedicated to them. What do 
you conclude from thence? Others who have temples 
are not therefore Gods. But let us go on. You call 
Jupiter and Neptune Gods; their brother Pluto, then, is 
one ; and if so, those rivers also are Deities which they 
say flow in the infernal regions Acheron, Cocytus, Pyri- 
phlegethon ; Charon also, and Cerberus, are Gods ; but 
that cannot be allowed ; nor can Pluto be placed among 
the Deities. What, then, will you say of his brothers ? 

Thus reasons Carneadcs ; not with any design to de 
stroy the existence of the Gods (for what would less be 
come a philosopher?), but to convince us that on that 
matter the Stoics have said nothing plausible. If, then, 
Jupiter and Neptune are Gods, adds he, can that divinity 
be denied to their father Saturn, who is principally wor 
shipped throughout the West? If Saturn is a God, then 
must his father, Cffilus, be one too, and so must the par 
ents of Coclus, which are the Sky and Day, as also their 
brothers and sisters, which by ancient genealogists are 

1 They are said to have been the first workers in iron. They were 
called Idaei, because they inhabited about Mount Ida in Crete, and 
Dactyli, from daKTitiot (the fingers), their number being five. 

a From whom, some say, the city of that name was called. 

3 Capedttncuhc seem to have been bowls or cups, with handles on each 
side, set apart for the use of the altar. DAVIS. 


thus named: Love, Deceit, Fear, Labor, Envy, -Fate, Old 
Age, Death, Darkness, Misery, Lamentation, Favor, Fraud, 
Obstinacy, the Destinies, the Hesperides, and Dreams ; all 
which are the offspring of Erebus and Night. These 
monstrous Deities, therefore, must be received, or else 
those from whom they sprung must be disallowed. 

XVIII. If you say that Apollo, Vulcan, Mercury, and 
the rest of that sort are Gods, can you doubt the divinity 
of Hercules and ^Esculapius, Bacchus, Castor and Pollux ? 
These are worshipped as much as those, and even more 
in some places. Therefore they must be numbered among 
the Gods, though on the mother's side they are only of 
mortal race. Aristseus, who is said to have been the son 
of Apollo, and to have found out the art of making oil 
from the olive ; Theseus, the son of Neptune ; and the 
rest whose fathers were Deities, shall they not be placed 
in the number of the Gods? But what think you of 
those whose mothers were Goddesses ? They surely have 
a better title to divinity ; for, in the civil law, as he is a 
freeman who is born of a freewoman, so, in the law of 
nature, he whose mother is a Goddess must be a God. 
The isle Astypalaaa religiously honor Achilles; and if he 
is a Deity, Orpheus and Rhesus are so, who were born of 
one of the Muses ; unless, perhaps, there may be a privi 
lege belonging to sea marriages which land marriages 
have not. Orpheus and Rhesus are nowhere worshipped ; 
and if they are therefore not Gods, because they are no 
where worshipped as such, how can the others be Deities? 
You, Balbus, seemed to agree with me that the honors 
which they received were not from their being regarded 
as immortals, but as men richly endued with virtue. 

But if you think Latona a Goddess, how can you avoid 
admitting Hecate to be one also, who was the daughter of 
Asteria, Latona's sister? Certainly she is one, if we may 
judge by the altars erected to her in Greece. And if Hec 
ate is a Goddess, how can you refuse that rank to the 
Eumenides? for they also have a temple at Athens, and, 
if I understand right, the Romans have consecrated a grove 
to them. The Furies, too, whom we look upon as the in 
spectors into and scourges of impiety, I suppose, must have 
their divinity too. As you hold that there is some divinity 


presides over every human affair, there is one who presides 
over the travail of matrons, whose name, Natio, is derived 
a nascentibus, from nativities, and to whom we used to 
sacrifice in our processions in the fields of Arda3a; but if 
she is a Deity, we must likewise acknowledge all those you 
mentioned, Honor, Faith, Intellect, Concord; by the same 
rule also, Hope, Juno, Moneta, 1 and every idle phantom, 
every child of our imagination, are Deities. But as this 
consequence is quite inadmissible, do not you either de 
fend the cause from which it flows. 

XIX. What say you to this? If these are Deities, 
which we worship and regard as such, why are not Sera- 
pis and Isis 3 placed in the same rank? And if they are 
admitted, what reason have we to reject the Gods of the 
barbarians ? Thus we should deify oxen, horses, the ibis, 
hawks, asps, crocodiles, fishes, dogs, wolves, cats, and many 
other beasts. If we go back to the source of this super 
stition, we must equally condemn all the Deities from 
which they pi'oceed. Shall Ino, whom the Greeks call 
Leucothea, and we Matuta, be reputed a Goddess, because 
she was the daughter of Cadmus, and shall that title be re 
fused to Circe and Pasiphae, 3 who had the sun for their fa 
ther, and Perseis, daughter of the Ocean, for their mother? 
It is true, Circe has divine honors paid her by our colony 
of Circaeum ; therefore you call her a Goddess ; but what 
will you say of Medea, the granddaughter of the Sun and 
the Ocean, and daughter of ^Eetes and Idyia? What will 
you say of her brother Absyrtus, whom Pacuvius calls 
^Egialeus, though the other name is more frequent in the 
writings of the ancients? If you did not deify one as well 
as the other, what will become of Ino ? for all these Deities 
have the same origin. 

Shall Amphiaraus and Tryphonius be called Gods ? Our 
publicans, when some lands in Boeotia were exempted from 
the tax, as belonging to the immortal Gods, denied that 

1 See Cicero de Divinatione, and Ovid. Fast. 

1 In the consulship of Piso and Gabinius sacrifices to Serapis and Isis 
were prohibited in Rome ; but the Roman people afterward placed them 
again in the number of their gods. See Tertullian's Apol. and his first 
book Ad Nationes, and Arnobius, lib. 2. DAVIS. 

3 In some copies Circe, Pasiphae, and JEn are mentioned together; 
but JEa is rejected by the most judicious editors. 


any were immortal who had been men. But if you deify 
these, Erechtheus surely is a God, whose temple and priest 
we have seen at Athens. And can you, then, refuse to ac 
knowledge also Codrus, and many others who shed their 
blood for the preservation of their country? And if it is 
not allowable to consider all these men as Gods, then, cer 
tainly, probabilities are not in favor of our acknowledg 
ing the Divinity of those previously mentioned beings from 
whom these have proceeded. 

It is easy to observe, likewise, that if in many countries 
people have paid divine honors to the memory of those 
who have signalized their courage, it was done in order 
to animate others to practise virtue, and to expose them 
selves the more willingly to dangers in their country's 
cause. From this motive the Athenians have deified Erech 
theus and his daughters, and have erected also a temple, 
called Leocorion, to the daughters of Leus. 1 Alabandus 
is more honored in the city which he founded than any of 
the more illustrious Deities ; from thence Stratonicus had 
a pleasant turn as he had many when he was troubled 
with an impertinent fellow who insisted that Alabandus 
was a God, but that Hercules was not; "Very well," says 
he, " then let the anger of Alabandus fall upon me, and 
that of Hercules upon you." 

XX. Do you not consider, Balbus, to what lengths your 
arguments for the divinity of the heaven and the stars 
will carry you ? You deify the sun and the moon, which 
the Greeks take to be Apollo and Diana. If the moon is 
a Deity, the morning- star, the other planets, and all the 
fixed stars are also Deities; and why shall not the rain 
bow be placed in that number? for it is so wonderfully 
beautiful that it is justly said to be the daughter of Thau- 
mas. 2 But if you deify the rainbow, what regard will you 
pay to the clouds ? for the colors which appear in the bow 
are only formed of the clouds, one of which is said to have 
brought forth the Centaurs ; and if you deify the clouds, 
you cannot pay less regard to the seasons, which the Ro 
man people have really consecrated. Tempests, showers, 

1 They were three, and are said to have averted a plague by offering 
themselves a sacrifice. 

a So called from the Greek word 0aty/dw, to wonder. 


storms, and whirlwinds must then be Deities. It is cer 
tain, at least, that our captains used to sacrifice a victim 
to the waves before they embarked on any voyage. 

As you deify the earth under the name of Ceres, 1 be 
cause, as you said, she bears fruits (a gerendo], and the 
ocean under that of Neptune, rivers and fountains have 
the same right. Thus we see that Maso, the conqueror of 
Corsica, dedicated a temple to a fountain, and the names 
of the Tiber, Spino, Alrno, Nodinus, and other neighbor 
ing livers are in the prayers 3 of the augurs. Therefore, 
either the number of such Deities will be infinite, or we 
must admit none of them, and wholly disapprove of such 
an endless series of superstition. 

XXI. None of all these assertions, then, are to be ad 
mitted. I must proceed now, Balbus, to answer those who 
say that, with regard to those deified mortals, so religious 
ly and devoutly reverenced, the public opinion should have 
the force of reality. To begin, then : they who are called 
thcologists say that there are three Jupiters ; the first and 
second of whom were born in Arcadia ; one of whom was 
the son of JEther, and father of Proserpine and Bacchus ; 
the other the son of Coelus, and father of Minerva, who is 
called the Goddess and inventress of war; the third one 
born of Saturn in the isle of Crete, 8 where his sepulchre 
is shown. The sons of Jupiter (Awaxovpoi) also, among 
the Greeks, have many names ; first, the three who at 
Athens have the title of Auactes/ Tritopatreus, Eubuleus, 
and Dionysus, sons of the most ancient king Jupiter and 
Proserpine ; the next are Castor and Pollux, sons of the 
third Jupiter and Leda; and, lastly, three others, by some 
called Aico, 5 Melampus, and Tmolus, sons of Atreus, the 
son of Pelops. 

1 She was first called Geres, from gero, to bear. 

2 The word is precatione, which means the books or forms of prayers 
used by the augurs. 

3 Cotta's intent here, as well as in other places, is to show how un- 
philosophical their civil theology was, and with what confusions it was 
embarrassed ; which design of the Academic the reader should carefully 
keep in view, or he will lose the chain of argument. 

4 Anactes, 'Ava/crec, was a general name for all kings, as we find in 
the oldest Greek writers, and particularly in Homer. 

5 The common reading is Aleo ; but we follow Lambinus and Davis, 
who had the authority of the best manuscript copies. 



As to the Muses, there were at first four Thelxiope, 
Aocde, Arche, and Melete daughters of the second Jupi 
ter ; afterward there were nine, daughters of the third Ju 
piter and Mnemosyne ; there were also nine others, having 
the same appellations, born of Pierus and Antiopa, by the 
poets usually called Pierides and Pieria3. Though Sol 
(the sun) is so called, you say, because he is solus (single) ; 
yet how many suns do theologists mention? There is 
one, the son of Jupiter and grandson of ^Ether; another, 
the son of Hyperion; a third, who, the Egyptians say, was 
of the city Heliopolis, sprung from Vulcan, the son of 
Nilus; a fourth is said to have been born at Rhodes of 
Acantho, in the times of the heroes, and was the grandfa 
ther of Jalysus, Camirus, and Lindus ; a fifth, of whom, it 
is pretended, Aretes and Circe were born at Colchis. 

XXII. There are likewise several Vulcans. The first 
(who had of Minerva that Apollo whom the ancient his 
torians call the tutelary God of Athens) was the son of 
Ccelus ; the second, whom the Egyptians call Opas, 1 and 
whom they looked upon as the protector of Egypt, is the 
son of Nilus; the third, who is said to have been the mas 
ter of the forges at Lemnos, was the son of the third Ju 
piter and of Juno ; the fourth, who possessed the islands 
near Sicily called Vulcanise, 9 was the son of Menalius. 
One Mercury had Ccelus for his father and Dies for his 
mother; another, who is said to dwell in a cavern, and is 
the same as Trophonius, is the son of Valens and Phoronis. 
A third, of whom, and of Penelope, Pan was the offspring, 
is the son of the third Jupiter and Maia. A fourth, whom 
the Egyptians think it a crime to name, is the son of Nilus. 
A fifth, whom we call, in their language, Thoth, as with 
them the first month of the year is called, is he whom the 
people of Pheneum 3 worship, and who is said to have kill 
ed Argus, to have fled for it into Egypt, and to have given 
laws and learning to the Egyptians. The first of the 
^Esculapii, the God of Arcadia, who is said to have in 
vented the probe and to have been the first person who 
taught men to use bandages for wounds, is the son of 

1 Some prefer Phthas to Opas (see Dr. Davis's edition) ; but Opas is 
the generally received reading. 
* The Lipnri Isles, 3 A town in Arcadia. 


Apollo. The second, who was killed with thunder, and is 
said to be buried in Cynosura, 1 is the brother of the sec 
ond Mercury. The third, who is said to have found out 
the art of purging the stomach, and of drawing teeth, is 
the son of Arsippus and Arsinoe ; and in Arcadia there is 
shown his tomb, and the wood which is consecrated to 
him, near the river Lusiura. 

XXIII. I have already spoken of the most ancient of the 
Apollos, who is the son of Vulcan, and tutelar God of Ath 
ens. There is another, son of Corybas, and native of Crete, 
for which island he is said to have contended with Jupiter 
himself. A third, who came from the regions of the Hy- 
perborei" to Delphi, is the son of the third Jupiter and of 
Latona. A fourth was of Arcadia, whom the Arcadians 
called Nomio, 3 because they regarded him as their legis 
lator. There are likewise many Dianas. The first, who 
is thought to be the mother of the winged Cupid, is the 
daughter of Jupiter and Proserpine. The second, who is 
more known, is daughter of the third Jupiter and of La 
tona. The third, whom the Greeks often call by her fa 
ther's name, is the daughter of Upis 4 and Glauce. There 
are many also of the Dionysi. The first was the son of 
Jupiter and Proserpine, The second, who is said to have 
killed Nysa, was the son of Nilus. The third, who reign 
ed in Asia, and for whom the Sabazia 5 were instituted, was 
the son of Caprius. The fourth, for whom they celebrate 
the Orphic festivals, sprung from Jupiter and Luna. The 
fifth, who is supposed to have instituted the Trieterides, 
was the son of Nysus and Thyone. 

The first Venus, who has a temple at Elis, was the daugh 
ter of Ccelus and Dies. The second arose out of the froth 
of the sea, and became, by Mercury, the mother of the sec 
ond Cupid. The third, the daughter of Jupiter and Di 
ana, was married to Vulcan, but is said to have had An- 
teros by Mars. The fourth was a Syrian, born of Tyro, 
who is called Astarte, and is said to have been married to 

1 In Arcadia. * A northern people. 

3 So called from the Greek word v^uof, lex, a law. 

4 He is called 'S2mf in some old Greek fragments, and Qvwif by Cal- 
limachus in his hymn on Diana. 

6 Sa/3<i/of, Sabazius, is one of the names used for Bacchus. 


Adonis. I have already mentioned one Minerva, mother 
of Apollo. Another, who is worshipped at Suis, a city in 
Egypt, sprung from Nilus. The third, whom I have also 
mentioned, was daughter of Jupiter. The fourth, sprung 
from Jupiter and Coryphc, the daughter of the Ocean ; 
the Arcadians call her Coria, and make her the inventress 
of chariots. A fifth, whom they paint with wings at her 
heels, was daughter of Pallas, and is said to have killed her 
father for endeavoring to violate her chastity. The first 
Cupid is said to be the son of Mercury and the first Diana ; 
the second, of Mercury and the second Venus ; the third, 
who is the same as Anteros, of Mars and the third Venus. 

All these opinions arise from old stories that were 
spread in Greece ; the belief in which, Balbus, you well 
know, ought to be stopped, lest religion should suffer. 
But you Stoics, so far from refuting them, even give them 
authority by the mysterious sense which you pretend to 
find in them. Can you, then, think, after this plain refuta 
tion, that there is need to employ more subtle reasonings? 
But to return from this digression. 

XXIV. We see that the mind, faith, hope, virtue, honor, 
victory, health, concord, and things of such kind, are purely 
natural, and have nothing of divinity in them ; for cither 
they are inherent in us, as the mind, faith, hope, virtue, 
and concord are ; or else they are to be desired, as honor, 
health, and victory. I know indeed that they are useful 
to us, and see that statues have been religiously erected 
for them ; but as to their divinity, I shall begin to believe 
it when you have proved it for certain. Of this kind I 
may particularly mention Fortune, which is allowed to be 
ever inseparable from inconstancy and temerity, which are 
certainly qualities unworthy of a divine being. 

But what delight do you take in the explication of fa 
bles, and in the etymology of names? that Coelus was 
castrated by his son, and that Saturn was bound in chains 
by his son ! By your defence of these and such like fic 
tions you would make the authors of them appear not only 
not to be madmen, but to have been even very wise. But 
the pains which you take with your etymologies deserve 
our pity. That Saturn is so called because se saturat an- 
nis, he is full of years; Mayors, Mars, because 


vortit, he brings about mighty changes ; Minerva, because 
minuit, she diminishes, or because minatur, she threatens ; 
Venus, because venit ad omnia, she comes to all ; Ceres, 
a gerendo,hom bearing. How dangerous is this method ! 
for there are many names would puzzle you. From what 
would you derive Yejupiter and Vulcan ? Though, in 
deed, if you can derive Neptune a nando,irom swimming, 
in which you seem to me to flounder about yourself more 
than Neptune, you may easily find the origin of all names, 
since it is founded only upon the conformity of some one 
letter. Zeno first, and after him Cleanthes and Chrysip- 
pus, are put to the unnecessary trouble of explaining mere 
fables, and giving reasons for the several appellations of 
every Deity ; which is really owning that those whom we 
call Gods are not the representations of deities, but natu 
ral things, and that to judge otherwise is an error. 

XXV. Yet this error has so much prevailed that even 
pernicious things have not only the title of divinity ascribed 
to them, but have also sacrifices offered to them ; for Fe 
ver has a temple on the Palatine hill, and Orbona anoth 
er near that of the Lares, and we see on the Esquiline hill 
an altar consecrated to Ill-fortune. Let all such errors be 
banished from philosophy, if we would advance, in our dis 
pute concerning the immortal Gods, nothing unworthy of 
immortal beings. I know myself what I ought to believe ; 
which is far different from what you have said. You take 
Neptune for an intelligence pervading the sea. You have 
the same opinion of Ceres with regard to the earth. I 
cannot, I own, find out, or in the least conjecture, what that 
intelligence of the sea or the earth is. To learn, therefore, 
the existence of the Gods, and of what description and char 
acter they are, I must apply elsewhere, not to the Stoics. 

Let us proceed to the two other parts of our dispute: 
first, " whether there is a divine providence which governs 
the world ;" and lastly, " whether that providence particu 
larly regards mankind ;" for these are the remaining prop 
ositions of your discourse; and I think that, if you approve 
of it, we should examine these more accurately. With all 
my heart, says Velleius, for I readily agree to what you 
have hitherto said, and expect still greater things from you. 

I am unwilling to interrupt you, says Balbus to Cotta, 


but we shall take another opportunity, and I shall effectu 
ally convince you. But 1 * * * 

XXVI. Shall I adore, and bend the suppliant knee, 
Who scorn their power and doubt their deity ? 

Does not Niobe here seem to reason, and by that rea 
soning to bring all her misfortunes upon herself? But 
what a subtle expression is the following ! 

On strength of will alone depends success ; 

a maxim capable of leading us into all that is bad. 

Though I'm confined, his malice yet is vain, 
His tortured heart shall answer pain for pain ; 
His ruin soothe my soul with soft content, 
Lighten my chains, and welcome banishment ! 

This, now, is reason; that reason which you say the di 
vine goodness has denied to the brute creation, kindly to 
bestow it on men alone. How great, how immense the 
favor ! Observe the same Medea flying from her father 
and her country : 

The guilty wretch from her pursuer flies. 
By her own hands the young Absyrtns slain, 
His mangled limbs she scatters o'er the plain, 
That the fond sire might sink beneath his woe, 
And she to parricide her safety owe. 

Reflection, as well as wickedness, must have been neces 
sary to the preparation of such a fact; and did he too, who 
prepared that fatal repast for his brother, do it without 
reflection ? 

Revenge as great as Atreus' injury 

Shall sink his soul and crown his misery. 

XXVII. Did not Thyestes himself, not content with hav 
ing defiled his brother's bed (of which Atreus with great 
justice thus complains, 

When faithless comforts, in the lewd embrace, 
With vile adultery stain a royal race, 
The blood thus mix'd in fouler currents flows, 
Taints the rich soil, and breeds unnumber'd woes) 

1 Here is a wide chasm in the original. What is lost probably may 
have contained great part of Cotta's arguments ngainst the providence 
of the Stoics. 


did he not, I say, by that adultery, aim at the possession 
of the crown ? Atreus thus continues : 

A lamb, fair gift of heaven, with golden fleece, 
Promised in vain to fix my crown in peace ; 
But base Thyestcs, eager for the prey, 
Crept to my bed, and stole the gem away. 

Do you not perceive that Thyestes must have had a 
share of reason proportionable to the greatness of his 
crimes such crimes as are not only represented to us on 
the stage, but such as we see committed, nay, often exceed 
ed, in the common course of life ? The private houses of 
individual citizens, the public courts, the senate, the camp, 
our allies, our provinces, all agree that reason is the author 
of all the ill, as well as of all the good, which is done; that 
it makes few act well, and that but seldom, but many act 
ill, and that frequently ; and that, in short, the Gods would 
have shown greater benevolence in denying us any reason 
at all than in sending us that which is accompanied with 
so much mischief; for as wine is seldom wholesome, but 
often hurtful in diseases, we think it more prudent to deny 
it to the patient than to run the risk of so uncertain a 
remedy ; so I do not know whether it would not be better 
for mankind to be deprived of wit, thought, and penetra 
tion, or what we call reason, since it is a thing pernicious 
to many and very useful to few, than to have it bestowed 
upon them with so much liberality and in such abundance. 
But if the divine will has really consulted the good of man 
in this gift of reason, the good of those men only was con 
sulted on whom a well - regulated one is bestowed : how 
few those are, if any, is very apparent. We cannot admit, 
therefore, that the Gods consulted the good of a few only ; 
the conclusion must be that they consulted the good of 

XXVIII. You answer that the ill use which a great 
part of mankind make of reason no more takes away the 
goodness of the Gods, who bestow it as a present of the 
greatest benefit to them, than the ill use which children 
make of their patrimony diminishes the obligation which 
they have to their parents for it. We grant you this; 
but where is the similitude? It was far from Deianira's 
design to injure Hercules when she made him a present 


of the shirt dipped in the blood of the Centaurs. Nor 
was it a regard to the welfare of Jason of Pherse that in 
fluenced the man who with his sword opened his impost- 
hume, which the physicians had in vain attempted to 
cure. For it has often happened that people have served 
a man whom they intended to injure, and have injured 
one whom they designed to serve; so that the effect of 
the gift is by no means always a proof of the intention of 
the giver; neither does the benefit which may accrue from 
it prove that it came from the hands of a benefactor. 
For, in short, what debauchery, what avarice, what crime 
among men is there which does not owe its birth to 
thought and reflection, that is, to reason ? For all opinion 
is reason : right reason, if men's thoughts are conforma 
ble to truth ; wrong reason, if they are not. The Gods 
only give us the mere faculty of reason, if we have any ; 
the use or abuse of it depends entirely upon ourselves ; so 
that the comparison is not just between the present of 
reason given us by the Gods, and a patrimony left to a son 
by his father; for, after all, if the injury of mankind had 
been the end proposed by the Gods, what could they have 
given them more pernicious than reason? for what seed 
could there be of injustice, intemperance, and cowardice, if 
reason were not laid as the foundation of these vices ? 

XXIX. I mentioned just now Medea and Atreus, per 
sons celebrated in heroic poems, who had used this rea 
son only for the contrivance and practice of the most fla 
gitious crimes ; but even the trifling characters which ap 
pear in comedies supply us with the like instances of this 
reasoning faculty ; for example, does not he, in the Eu 
nuch, reason with some subtlety ? 

What, then, must I resolve upon ? 

She tnrn'd me out-of-doors ; she sends for me back ngain ; 

Shall I go ? no, not if she were to beg it of me. 

Another, in the Twins, making no scruple of opposing a 
received maxim, after the manner of the Academics, as 
serts that when a man is in love and in want, it is pleas 

To have a father covetous, crabbed, and passionate, 
Who has no love or affection for his children. 


This unaccountable opinion he strengthens thus : 

You may defraud him of his profits, or forge letters in his name, 
Or fright him by your servant into compliance ; 
And what you take from such an old hunks, 
How much more pleasantly do you spend it! 

On the contrai'y, he says that an easy, generous father 
is an inconvenience to a son in love ; for, says he, 

I can't tell how to abuse so good, so prudent a parent, 
Who always foreruns my desires, and meets me purse in hand, 
To support me in my pleasures : this easy goodness and generosity 
Quite defeat all my frauds, tricks, and stratagems. 1 

What are these frauds, tricks, and stratagems but the 
effects of reason ? O excellent gift of the Gods ! With 
out this Phormio could not have said, 

Find me out the old man : I have something hatching for him in my 

XXX. But let us pass from the stage to the bar. The 
praetor 2 takes his seat. To judge whom? The man who 
set fire to our archives. How secretly was that villany 
conducted ! Q. Sosius, an illustrious Roman knight, of 
the Picene field, 3 confessed the fact. Who else is to be 
tried ? He who forged the public registers Alenus, an 
artful fellow, who counterfeited the handwriting of the 
six officers. 4 Let us call to mind other trials : that on 
the subject of the gold of Tolosa, or the conspiracy of Ju- 
gurtha. Let us trace back the informations laid against 
Tubulus for bribery in his judicial office; and, since that, 
the proceedings of the tribune Peduceus concerning the 

1 Here is one expression in the quotation from Catcilius that is not 
commonly met with, which is prcestigias prccstrlnxit ; Lambinus gives 
prcestinxit, for the sake, I suppose, of playing on words, because it might 
then be translated, " lie has deluded my delusions, or stratagems;" but 
prcestrinxit is certainly the right reading. 

a The ancient Romans had a judicial as well as a military praetor; 
nnd he sat, with inferior judges attending him, like one of our chief- 
justices. Sessumitprcetor, which I doubt not is tli3 right reading, Lam 
binus restored from an old copy. The common reading was sessum ite 

3 1'icenum was a region of Italy. 

4 The sex primi were general receivers of all taxes and tributes ; and 
they were obliged to make good, out of their own fortunes, whatever 
deficiencies were in the public treasury. 



incest of the vestals. Let us reflect upon the trials which 
daily happen for assassinations, poisonings, embezzlement 
of public money, frauds in wills, against which we have 
a new law; then that action against the advisers or as- 
sisters of any theft ; the many laws concerning frauds in 
guardianship, breaches of trust in partnerships and com 
missions in trade, and other violations of faith in buy 
ing, selling, borrowing, or lending; the public decree on 
a private affair by the Laetorian Law ; l and, lastly, that 
scourge of all dishonesty, the law against fraud, proposed 
by our friend Aquillius ; that sort of fraud, he says, by 
which one thing is pretended and another done. Can we, 
then, think that this plentiful fountain of evil sprung from 
the immortal Gods ? If they have given reason to man, 
they have likewise given him subtlety, for subtlety is only 
a deceitful manner of applying reason to do mischief. To 
them likewise we must owe deceit, and every other crime, 
which, without the help of reason, would neither have 
been thought of nor committed. As the old woman 

That to the fir which on Mount Pelion grew 

The axe had ne'er been laid, 2 

so we should wish that the Gods had never bestowed this 
ability on man, the abuse of which is so general that the 
small number of those who make a good use of it are 
often oppressed by those who make a bad use of it ; so 
that it seems to be given rather to help vice than to pro 
mote virtue among us. 

XXXI. This, you insist on it, is the fault of man, and 
not of the Gods. But should we not laugh at a physician 
or pilot, though they are weak mortals, if they were to lay 
the blame of their ill success on the violence of the disease 
or the fury of the tempest ? Had there not been danger, 

1 The Lajtorian Law was a security for those under age against ex 
tortioners, etc. By this law all debts contracted under twenty-five years 
of age were void. 

a This is from Ennius 

Utiuam ne in nempre Pelio sccnribns 
Csesa cecidisset abiegnn ad terrain trabea. 

Translated from the beginning of the Medea of Euripides 

M^y tv vi'nraiat I1r)Xi'ov irtativ irorf 


we should say, who would have applied to you ? This 
reasoning has still greater force against the Deity. The 
fault, you say, is in man, if he commits crimes. But why 
was not man endued with a, reason incapable of producing 
any crimes ? How could the Gods err ? When we leave 
our effects to our children, it is in hopes that they may 
be well bestowed ; in which we may be deceived, but how 
can the Deity be deceived ? As Phosbus when he trusted 
his chariot to his son Phaethon, or as Neptune when he in 
dulged his son Theseus in granting him three wishes, the 
consequence of which was the destruction of Hippolitus? 
These are poetical fictions ; but truth, and not fables, 
ought to proceed from philosophers. Yet if those poet 
ical Deities had foreseen that their indulgence would have 
proved fatal to their sons, they must have been thought 
blamable for it. 

Aristo of Chios used often to say that the philosophers 
do hurt to such of their disciples as take their good doc 
trine in a wrong sense ; thus the lectures of Aristippus 
might produce debauchees, and those of Zeno pedants. 
If this be true, it were better that philosophers should be 
silent than that their disciples should be corrupted by a 
misapprehension of their master's meaning; so if reason, 
which was bestowed on mankind by the Gods with a good 
design, tends only to make men more subtle and fraudu 
lent, it had been better for them never to have received it. 
There could be no excuse for a physician who prescribes 
wine to a patient, knowing that he will drink it and im 
mediately expire. Your Providence is no less blamable in 
giving reason to man, who, it foresaw, would make a bad 
use of it. Will you say that it did not foresee it? Noth 
ing could please me more than such an acknowledgment. 
But you dare not. I know what a sublime idea you enter 
tain of her. 

XXXII. But to conclude. If folly, by the unanimous 
consent of philosophers, is allowed to be the greatest of all 
evils, and if no one ever attained to true wisdom, we, whom 
they say the immortal Gods take care of, are consequently 
in a state of the utmost misery. For that nobody is well, 
or that nobody can be well, is in effect the same thing ; 
and, in my opinion, that no man is truly wise, or that iu> 


man can be truly wise, is likewise the same thing. But I 
will insist no further on so self-evident a point. Telamon 
in one verse decides the question. If, says he, there is a 
Divine Providence, 

Good men would be happy, had men miserable. 

But it is not so. If the Gods had regarded mankind, they 
should have made them all virtuous ; but if they did not 
regard the welfare of all mankind, at least they ought to 
have provided for the happiness of the virtuous. Why, 
therefore, was the Carthaginian in Spain suffered to de 
stroy those best and bravest men, the two Scipios ? Why 
did Maximus 1 lose his son, the consul ? Why did Hanni 
bal kill Marcellus ? Why did Canna3 deprive us of Pau- 
lus ? Why was the body of Regulus delivered up to the 
cruelty of the Carthaginians ? Why was not Africanus 
protected from violence in his own house ? To these, and 
many more ancient instances, let us add some of later date. 
Why is Rutilius, my uncle, a man of the greatest virtue 
and learning, now in banishment? Why was my own 
friend and companion Drusus assassinated in his own 
house ? Why was Scasvola, the high-priest, that pattern 
of moderation and prudence, massacred before the statue 
of Vesta ? Why, before that, were so many illustrious cit 
izens put to death by Cinna ? Why had Marius, the most 
perfidious of men, the power to cause the death of Catulus, 
a man of the greatest dignity ? But there would be no end 
of enumerating examples of good men made miserable and 
wicked men prosperous. Why did that Marius live to an 
old age, and die so happily at his own house in his seventh 
consulship? Why was that inhuman wretch Cinna per 
mitted to enjoy so long a reign ? 

XXXIII. He, indeed, met with deserved punishment at 
last. But would it not have been better that these inhu 
manities had been prevented than that the author of them 
should be punished afterward? Varius, a most impious 
wretch, was tortured and put to death. If this was his 
punishment for the murdering Drusus by the sword, and 
Metellus by poison, would it not have been better to have 
preserved their lives than to have their deaths avenged on 
J Q. Fabius Maximus, surnnmed Cunctator. 


Varius? Dionysius was thirty-eight years a tyrant over 
the most opulent and flourishing city ; and, before him, 
how many years did Pisistratus tyrannize in the very flow 
er of Greece ! Phalaris and Apollodorus met with the 
fate they deserved, but not till after they had tortured and 
put to death multitudes. Many robbers have been exe 
cuted; but the number of those who have suffered for 
their crimes is short of those whom they have robbed and 
murdered. Anaxarchus, 1 a scholar of Demoeritus, was cut 
to pieces by command of the tyrant of Cyprus ; and Zeno 
of Elea" ended his life in tortures. What shall I say of 
Socrates, 3 whose death, as often as I read of it in Plato, 
draws fresh tears from my eyes ? If, therefore, the Gods 
really see everything that happens to men, you must ac 
knowledge they make no distinction between the good and 
the bad. 

XXXIV. Diogenes the Cynic used to say of Harpalus, 
one of the most fortunate villains of his time, that the 
constant prosperity of such a man was a kind of witness 
against the Gods. Dionysius, of whom we have before 
spoken, after he had pillaged the temple of Proserpine at 
Locris, set sail for Syracuse, and, having a fair wind- dur 
ing his voyage, said, with a smile, " See, my friends, what 
favorable winds the immortal Gods bestow upon church- 
robbers." Encouraged by this prosperous event, he pro 
ceeded in his impiety. When he landed at Peloponnesus, 
he went into the temple of Jupiter Olympius, and disrobed 
his statue of a golden mantle of great weight, an ornament 
which the tyrant Gelo* had given out of the spoils of the 
Carthaginians, and at the same time, in a jesting manner, 
he said " that a golden mantle was too heavy in summer 
and too cold in winter;" and then, throwing a woollen 
cloak over the statue, added, "This will serve for all sea 
sons." At another time, he ordered the golden beard of 
^Esculapius of Epidaurus to be taken away, saying that " it 

1 Diogenes Laertius says he was pounded to death in a stone mortar 
bv command of Nicocreon, tyrant of Cyprus. 

* Elen, a city of Lucania, in Italy. The manner in which Zeno was 
put to death is, according to Diogenes Laertius, uncertain. 

3 This great and good man was accused of destroying the divinity of 
the Gods of his country. He was condemned, and died by drinking a 
glass of poison. 4 Tyrant of Sicily. 


was absurd for the son to have a beard, when his father 
had none." He likewise robbed the temples of the silver 
tables, which, according to the ancient custom of Greece, 
bore this inscription, " To the good Gods," saying " he was 
willing to make use of their goodness ;" and, without the 
least scruple, took away the little golden emblems of vic 
tory, the cups and coronets, which were in the stretched- 
out hands of the statues, saying " he did not take, but re 
ceive them ; for it would be folly not to accept good things 
from the Gods, to whom we are constantly praying for 
favors, when they stretch out their hands towards us." 
And, last of all, all the things which he had thus pillaged 
from the temples were, by his order, brought to the mar 
ket-place and sold by the common crier ; and, after he had 
received the money for them, he commanded every pur 
chaser to restore what he had bought, within a limited 
time, to the temples from whence they came. Thus to his 
impiety towards the Gods he added injustice to man. 

XXXV. Yet neither did Olympian Jove strike him with 
his thunder, nor did ^Esculapius cause him to die by tedi 
ous diseases and a lingering death. He died in his bed, 
had funeral honors' paid to him, and left his power, which 
he had wickedly obtained, as a just and lawful inheritance 
to his son. 

It is not without concern that I maintain a doctrine 
which seems to authorize evil, and which might probably 
give a sanction to it, if conscience, without any divine as 
sistance, did not point out, in the clearest manner, the dif 
ference between virtue and vice. Without conscience 
man is contemptible. For as no family or state can be 
supposed to be formed with any reason or discipline if 
there are no rewards for good actions nor punishment for 
crimes, so we cannot believe that a Divine Providence 
regulates the world if there is no distinction between the 
honest and the wicked. 

1 The common reading is, in tympanidis rogum inlatus est. This 
passage has been the occasion of as many different opinions concerning 
both the reading and the sense as any passage in the whole treatise. 
Tympanum is used for a timbrel or drum, tympanidia a diminutive 
of it. Lambinus says tympana "were sticks with which the tyrant 
used to beat the condemned." P. Victorius substitutes tyrannidis for 


But the Gods, you say, neglect trifling things : the little 
fields or vineyards of particular men are not worthy their 
attention ; and if blasts or hail destroy their product, Ju 
piter does not regard it, nor do kings extend their care 
to the lower offices of government. This argument might 
have some weight if, in bringing Rutilius as an instance, 
I had only complained of the loss of his farm at Formiae ; 
but I spoke of a personal misfortune, his banishment. 1 

XXXVI. All men agree that external benefits, such as 
vineyards, corn, olives, plenty of fruit and grain, and, in 
short, every convenience and property of life, are derived 
from the Gods ; and, indeed, with reason, since by our 
virtue we claim applause, and in virtue we justly glory, 
which we could have no right to do if it was the gift of 
the Gods, and not a personal merit. When we are hon 
ored with new dignities, or blessed with increase of riches ; 
when we are favored by fortune beyond our expectation, 
or luckily delivered from any approaching evil, we return 
thanks for it to the Gods, and assume no praise to our 
selves. But who ever thanked the Gods that he was a 
good man ? We thank them, indeed, for riches, health, and 
honor. For these we invoke the all-good and all-power 
ful Jupiter; but not for wisdom, temperance, and justice. 
No one ever offered a tenth of his estate to Hercules to be 
made wise. It is reported, indeed, of Pythagoras that he 
sacrificed an ox to the Muses upon having made some new 
discovery in geometry; 11 but, for my part, I cannot believe 
it, because he refused to sacrifice even to Apollo at Delos, 
lest he should defile the altar with blood. But to return. 
It is universally agreed that good fortune we must ask 
of the Gods, but wisdom must arise from ourselves ; and 
though temples have been consecrated to the Mind, to 
Virtue, and to Faith, yet that does not contradict their be- 

1 The original is de amissa salute; which means the sentence of ban 
ishment among the Romans, in which was contained the loss of goods 
and estate, and the privileges of a Roman ; and in this sense L' Abbe 
d'Olivet translates it. 

2 The forty-seventh proposition of the first book of Euclid is unani 
mously ascribed to him by the ancients. Dr. Wotton, in his Reflections 
upon Ancient and Modern Learning, says, "It is indeed a very noble 
proposition, the foundation of trigonometry, of universal and various use 
in those curious speculations about incommensurable numbers." 


ing inherent in us. In regard to hope, safety, assistance, 
and victory, we must rely upon the Gods for them ; from 
whence it follows, as Diogenes said, that the prosperity of 
the wicked destroys the idea of a Divine Providence. 

XXXVII. But good men have sometimes success. They 
have so ; but we cannot, with any show of reason, attrib 
ute that success to the Gods. Diagoras, who is called the 
atheist, being at Samothrace, one of his friends showed 
him several pictures 1 of people who had endured very dan 
gerous storms ; " See," says he, " you who deny a provi 
dence, how many have been saved by their prayers to the 
Gods." "Ay," says Diagoras, " I see those who were saved, 
but where are those painted who were shipwrecked ?" At 
another time, he himself was in a storm, when the sailors, 
being greatly alarmed, told him they justly deserved that 
misfortune for admitting him into their ship ; when he, 
pointing to others under the like distress, asked them "if 
they believed Diagoras was also aboard those ships ?" In 
short, with regard to good or bad fortune, it matters not 
what you are, or how you have lived. The Gods, like 
kings, regard not everything. What similitude is there 
between them ? If kings neglect anything, want of knowl 
edge may be pleaded in their defence ; but ignorance can 
not be brought as an excuse for the Gods. 

XXXVIII. Your manner of justifying them is some 
what extraordinary, when you say that if a wicked man 
dies without suffering for his crimes, the Gods inflict a 
punishment on his children, his children's children, and all 
his posterity. O wonderful equity of the Gods ! What 
city would endure the maker of a law which should con 
demn a son or a grandson for a crime committed by the 
father or the grandfather ? 

Shall Tantalus' unhappy offspring know 
No end, no close, of this long scene of woe? 
When will the diue reward of guilt be o'er, 
And Myrtilus demand revenge no more ?* 

Whether the poets have corrupted the Stoics, or the 
Stoics given authority to the poets, I cannot easily deter 
mine. Both alike are to be condemned. If those persons 

1 These votive tables, or pictures, were hung up in the temples. 
4 This passage is a fragment from a tragedy of Attius. 


whose names have been branded in the satires of Hipponax 
or Archilochus 1 were driven to despair, it did not proceed 
from the Gods, but had its origin in their own minds. 
When we see ^Egistus and Paris lost in the heat of an im 
pure passion, why are we to attribute it to a Deity, when 
the crime, as it were, speaks for itself? I believe that 
those who recover from illness are more indebted to the 
care of Hippocrates than to the power of ./Esculapius ; 
that Sparta received her laws from Lycurgus 2 rather than 
from Apollo ; that those eyes of the maritime coast, Cor 
inth and Carthage, were plucked out, the one by Critolaus, 
the other by Hasdrubal, without the assistance of any di 
vine anger, since you yourselves confess that a Deity can 
not possibly be angry on any provocation. 

XXXIX. But could not the Deity have assisted and 
preserved those eminent "cities ? Undoubtedly he could ; 
for, according to your doctrine, his power is infinite, and 
without the least labor ; and as nothing but the will is 
necessary to the motion of our bodies, so the divine will 
of the Gods, with the like ease, can create, move, and 
change all things. This you hold, not from a mere phan 
tom of superstition, but on natural and settled principles 
of reason ; for matter, you say, of which all things are 
composed and consist, is susceptible of all forms and 
changes, and there is nothing which cannot be, or cease to 
be, in an instant ; and that Divine Providence has the com 
mand and disposal of this universal matter, and conse 
quently can, in any part of the universe, do whatever she 
pleases : from whence I conclude that this Providence ei 
ther knows not the extent of her power, or neglects human 
affairs, or cannot judge what is best for us. Providence, 
you say, does not extend her care to particular men ; there 

1 Hipponax was a poet at Ephesus, and so deformed that Bupalus 
drew a picture of him to provoke laughter; for which Hipponax is said 
to have written such keen iambics on the painter that he hanged himself. 

Lycambes had promised Archilochus the poet to marry his daughter 
to him, but afterward retracted his promise, and refused her; upon which 
Archilochus is said to have published a satire in iambic verse that pro 
voked him to hang himself. 

" Cicero refers here to an oracle approving of his laws, and promising 
Sparta prosperity as long as they were obeyed, which Lycurgus procured 
from Delphi. 


is no wonder in that, since she does not extend it to cities, 
or even to nations, or people. If, therefore, she neglects 
whole nations, is it not very probable that she neglects 
all mankind? But how can you assert that the Gods do 
not enter into all the little circumstances of life, and yet 
hold that they distribute dreams among men ? Since you 
believe in dreams, it is your part to solve this difficulty. 
Besides, you say we ought to call upon the Gods. Those 
who call upon the Gods are individuals. Divine Provi 
dence, therefore, regards individuals, which consequently 
proves that they are more at leisure than you imagine. 
Let us suppose the Divine Providence to be greatly busied ; 
that it causes the revolutions of the heavens, supports the 
earth, and rules the seas ; why does it suffer so many Gods 
to be unemployed? Why is not the superintendence of 
human affairs given to some of those idle Deities which 
you say are innumerable? 

This is the purport of what I had to say concerning 
" the Nature of the Gods ;" not with a design to destroy 
their existence, but merely to show what an obscure point 
it is, and with what difficulties an explanation of it is at 

XL. Balbus, observing that Cotta had finished his dis 
course You have been very severe, says lie, against a Di 
vine Providence, a doctrine established by the Stoics with 
piety and wisdom ; but, as it grows too late, I shall defer 
my answer to another day. Our argument is of the great 
est importance ; it concerns our altars, 1 our hearths, our 
temples, nay, even the walls of our city, which you priests 
hold sacred ; you, who by religion defend Rome better 
than she is defended by her ramparts. This is a cause 
which, while I have life, I think I cannot abandon without 

There is nothing, replied Cotta, which I desire more 
than to be confuted. I have not pretended to decide this 
point, but to give you my private sentiments upon it ; and 
am very sensible of your great superiority in argument. 

1 Pro aris et focis is a proverbial expression. The Romans, when 
they would say their all was at stake, could not express it stronger than 
by saying they contended pro aris et focis, for religion and their fire 
sides, or, as we express it, for religion and property. 


No doubt of it, says Velleius ; we have much to fear from 
one who believes that our dreams are sent from Jupiter, 
which, though they are of little weight, are yet of more 
importance than the discourse of the Stoics concerning 
the nature of the Gods. The conversation ended here, 
and we parted. Velleius judged that the arguments of 
Cotta were truest ; but those of Balbus seemed to me to 
have the greater probability. 1 

1 Cicero, who was an Academic, gives his opinion according to the 
manner of the Academics, who looked upon probability, and a resem 
blance of truth, as the utmost they could arrive at. 



THIS work was one of Cicero's earlier treatises, though 
one of those which was most admired by his contempora 
ries, and one of which he himself was most pi-oud. It was 
composed 54 B.C. It was originally in two books : then it 
was altered and enlarged into nine, and finally reduced to 
six. With the exception of the dream of Scipio, in the 
last book, the whole treatise was lost till the year 1822, 
when the librarian of the Vatican discovered a portion of 
them among the palimpsests in that library. What he dis 
covered is translated here; but it is in a most imperfect 
and mutilated state. 

The form selected was that of a dialogue, in imitation 
of those of Plato ; and the several conferences were sup 
posed to have taken place during the Latin holidays, 129 
B.C., in the consulship of Caius Sempronius, Tuditanus, 
and Marcus Aquilius. The speakers are Scipio Africanus 
the younger, in whose garden the scene is laid ; Caius 
Lajlius ; Lucius Furius Philus-; Marcus Manilius ; Spurius 
Mummius, the brother of the taker of Corinth, a Stoic ; 
Quintus JElius Tubero, a nephew of Africanus; Publius 
Rutilius Ruf us ; Quintus Mucius ScaBvola, the tutor of Cic 
ero ; and Caius Fannius, who was absent, however, on the 
second day of the conference. 

In the first book, the first thirty-three pages are want 
ing, and there are chasms amounting to thirty-eight pages 
more. In this book Scipio asserts the superiority of an 
active over a speculative career ; and after analyzing and 
comparing the monarchical, aristocratic, and democratic 
forms of government, gives a preference to the first ; al- 


though liis idea of a perfect constitution would be one 
compounded of three kinds in due proportion. 

There are a few chasms in the earlier part of the second 
book, and the latter part of it is wholly lost. In it Scipio 
was led on to give an account of the rise and progress of 
the Roman Constitution, from which he passed on to the 
examination of the great moral obligations which are the 
foundations of all political union. 

Of the remaining books we have only a few disjointed 
fragments, with the exception, as has been before men 
tioned, of the dream of Scipio in the sixth. 



Cicero introduces his subject by showing that men were not born for the 
mere abstract study of philosophy, but that the study of philosophic 
truth should always be made as practical as possible, and applicable to 
the great interests of philanthropy and patriotism. Cicero endeavors 
to show the benefit of mingling the contemplative or philosophic with 
the political and active life, according to that maxim of Plato " Hap 
py is the nation whose philosophers are kings, and whose kings are 

This kind of introduction was the mere necessary because many of the 
ancient philosophers, too warmly attached to transcendental meta 
physics and sequestered speculations, had affirmed that true philoso 
phers ought not to interest themselves in the management of public 
affairs. Thus, as M. Villemain observes, it was a maxim of the Epi 
cureans, " Sapiens ne accedat ad rempublicam " (Let no wise man 
meddle in politics). The Pythagoreans had enforced the same princi 
ple with more gravity. Aristotle examines the question on both sides, 
and concludes in favor of active life. Among Aristotle's disciples, a 
writer, singularly elegant and pure, had maintained the pre-eminence 
of the contemplative life over the political or active one, in a work 
which Cicero cites with admiration, and to which he seems to have 
applied for relief whenever he felt harassed and discouraged in public 
business. But here this great 'man was interested by the subject he 
discusses, and by the whole course of his experience and conduct, to 
refute the dogmas of that pusillanimous sophistiy and selfish indul 
gence by bringing forward the most glorious examples and achieve 
ments of patriotism. In this strain he had doubtless commenced his 
exordium, and in this strain we find him continuing it at the point in 
which the palimpsest becomes legible. He then proceeds to introduce 
his illustrious interlocutors, and leads them at first to discourse on the 
astronomical laws that regulate the revolutions of our planet. From 
this, by a very graceful and beautiful transition, he passes on to the 
consideration of the best forms of political constitutions that had pre 
vailed in different nations, and those modes of government which had 
produced the greatest benefits in the commonwealths of antiquity. 

This first book is, in fact, a splendid epitome of the political science of 
the age of Cicero, and probably the most eloquent plea in favor of 
mixed monarchy to be found in all literature. 



I. [WITHOUT the virtue of patriotism], neither Caius 
Duilius, nor Aulus Atilius, 1 nor Lucius Metellus, could 
have delivered Rome by their courage from the terror of 
Carthage ; nor could the two Scipios, when the fire of the 
second Punic War was kindled, have quenched it in their 
blood ; nor, when it revived in greater force, could either 
Quintus Maximus 2 have enervated it, or Marcus Marcellus 
have crushed it ; nor, when it was repulsed from the gates 
of our own city, would Scipio have confined it within the 
walls of our enemies. 

But Cato, at first a new and unknown man, whom all 
we who aspire to the same honors consider as a pattern 
to lead us on to industry and virtue, was undoubtedly at 
liberty to enjoy his repose at Tusculum, a most salubri 
ous and convenient retreat. But he, mad as some people 
think him, though no necessity compelled him, preferred 
being tossed about amidst the tempestuous waves of pol 
itics, even till extreme old age, to living M'ith all imagina 
ble luxury in that tranquillity and relaxation. I omit in 
numerable men who have separately devoted themselves 
to the protection of our Commonwealth ; and those whose 
lives are within the memory of the present generation I 
will not mention, lest any one should complain that I had 
invidiously forgotten himself or some one of his family. 
This only I insist on that so great is the necessity of this 
virtue which nature has implanted in man, and so great 
is the desire to defend the common safety of oxir country, 
that its energy has continually overcome all the blandish 
ments of pleasure and repose. 

II. Nor is it sufficient to possess this virtue as if it 
were some kind of art, unless we put it in practice. An 
art, indeed, though not exercised, may still be retained in 
knowledge; but virtue consists wholly in its proper use 

1 I.e., Kegulus. a /. e., Fafcius. 


and action. Now, the noblest use of virtue is the govern 
ment of the Commonwealth, and the carrying-out in real 
action, not in words only, of all those identical theories 
which those philosophers discuss at every corner. For 
nothing is spoken by philosophers, so far as they speak 
correctly and honorably, which has not been discovered 
and confirmed by those persons \vho have been the found 
ers of the laws of states. For whence comes piety, or 
from whom has religion been derived? Whence comes 
law, either that of nations, or that which is called the civ 
il law? Whence comes justice, faith, equity ? Whence 
modesty, continence, the horror of baseness, the desire 
of praise and renown? Whence fortitude in labors and 
perils ? Doubtless, from those who have instilled some 
of these moral principles into men by education, and con 
firmed others by custom, and sanctioned others by laws. 

Moreover, it is reported of Xenocrates, one of the sub- 
limest philosophers, that when some one asked him what 
his disciples learned, he replied, " To do that of their own 
accord which they might be compelled to do by law." 
That citizen, therefore, who obliges all men to those virtu 
ous actions, by the authority of laws and penalties, to 
which the philosophers can scarcely persuade a few by 
the force of their eloquence, is certainly to be preferred to 
the sagest of the doctors who spend their lives in such 
discussions. For which of their exquisite orations is so 
admirable as to be entitled to be preferred to a well-con 
stituted government, public justice, and good customs? 
Certainly, just as I think that magnificent and imperious 
cities (as Ennius says) are superior to castles and villages, 
so I imagine that those who regulate such cities by their 
counsel and authority are far preferable, with respect to 
real wisdom, to men who are unacquainted with any kind 
of political knowledge. And since we are strongly 
prompted to augment the prosperity of the human race, 
and since we do endeavor by our counsels and exertions 
to render the life of man safer and wealthier, and since we 
are incited to this blessing by the spur of nature herself, 
let us hold on that course which has always been pursued 
by all the best men, and not listen for a moment to the 
signals of those who sound a retreat so loudly that they 



sometimes call back even those who have made considera 
ble progress. 

III. These reasons, so certain and so evident, are op 
posed by those who, on the other side, argue that the la 
bors which must necessarily be sustained in maintaining 
the Commonwealth form but a slight impediment to the 
vigilant and industrious, and are only a contemptible ob 
stacle in such important affairs, and even in common stud 
ies, offices, and employments. They add the peril of life, 
that base fear of death, which has ever been opposed by 
brave men, to whom it appears far more miserable to die 
by the decay of nature and old age than to be allowed 
an opportunity of gallantly sacrificing that life for their 
country which must otherwise be yielded up to nature. 

On this point, however, our antagonists esteem them 
selves copious and eloquent when they collect all the ca 
lamities of heroic men, and the injuries inflicted on them 
by their ungrateful countrymen. For on this subject they 
bring forward those notable examples among the Greeks ; 
and tell us that Miltiades, the vanquisher and conqueror 
of the Persians, before even those wounds were healed 
which he had received in that most glorious victory, 
wasted away in the chains of his fellow-citizens that life 
which had been preserved from the weapons of the ene 
my. They cite Themistocles, expelled and proscribed by 
the country which he had rescued, and forced to flee, not 
to the Grecian ports which he had preserved, but to the 
bosom of the barbarous power which he had defeated. 
There is, indeed, no deficiency of examples to illustrate 
the levity and cruelty of the Athenians to their noblest 
citizens examples which, originating and multiplying 
among them, are said at different times to have abounded 
in our own most august empire. For we are told of the 
exile of Camillus, the disgrace of Ahala, the unpopularity 
of Nasica, the expulsion of Lainas, 1 the condemnation of 

1 It is unnecessary to give an account of the other names here men 
tioned ; but that of Laenas is probably less known. He was Publius 
Popillius Lamas, consul 132 B.C., the year after the death of Tiberius 
Gracchus, and it became his duty to prosecute the accomplices of Grac 
chus, for which lie was afterward attacked by Caius Gracchus with such 
animosity that he withdrew into voluntary exile. Cicero pays a tribute 
to the energy of Opimins in the first Oration against Catiline, c. iii. 


Opimins, the flight of Metellus, the cruel destruction of 
Caius Marios, the massacre of our chieftains, and the 
many atrocious crimes which followed. My own history 
is by no means free from such calamities ; and I imagine 
that when they recollect that by my counsel and perils 
they were preserved in life and liberty,, they are led by 
that consideration to bewail my misfortunes more deeply 
and affectionately. But I cannot tell why those who sail 
over the seas for the sake of knowledge and experience' 
[should wonder at seeing still greater hazards braved in 
the service of the Commonwealth]. 

IV. [Since], on rny quitting the consulship, I swore in 
the assembly of the Roman people, who re-echoed my 
words, that I had saved the Commonwealth, I console my 
self with this remembrance for all my cares, troubles, and 
injuries. Although my misfortune had more of honor 
than misfortune, and more of glory than disaster; and I 
derive greater pleasure from the regrets of good mfen than 
sorrow from the exultation of the worthless. But even if 
it had happened otherwise, how could I have complained, 
as nothing befell me which was either unforeseen, or more 
painful than I expected, as a return for my illustrious ac 
tions ? For I was one who, though it was in my power to 
reap more profit from leisure than most men, on account 
of the diversified sweetness of my studies, in which I had 
lived from boyhood or, if any public calamity had hap 
pened, to have borne no more than an equal share with the 
rest of my countrymen in the misfortune ; I nevertheless 
did not hesitate to oppose myself to the most formidable 
tempests and torrents of sedition, for the sake of saving 
my countrymen, and at my own proper danger to secure 
the common safety of all the rest. For our country did 
not beget and educate us with the expectation of receiving 
no support, as I may call it, from us ; nor for the purpose 
of consulting nothing but our convenience, to supply us 
with a secure refuge for idleness and a tranquil spot for 
rest ; but rather with a view of turning to her own advan 
tage the nobler portion of our genius, heart, and counsel ; 
giving us back for our private service only what she can 
spare from the public interests. 

V. Those apologies, therefore, in which men take ref- 


uge as an excuse for their devoting themselves with more 
plausibility to mere inactivity do certainly not deserve to 
be listened to ; when, for instance, they tell us that those 
who meddle with public affairs are generally good-for- 
nothing men, with whom it is discreditable to be com 
pared, and miserable and dangerous to contend, especially 
when the multitude is in an excited state. On which ac 
count it is not the part of a wise man to take the reins, 
since he cannot restrain the insane and unregulated move 
ments of the common people. Nor is it becoming to a 
man of liberal birth, say they, thus to contend with such 
vile and unrefined antagonists, or to subject one's self to 
the lashings of contumely, or to put one's self in the way 
of injuries which ought not to be borne by a wise man. 
As if to a virtuous, brave, and magnanimous man there 
could be a juster reason for seeking the government than 
this to avoid being subjected to worthless men, and to 
prevent the Commonwealth from being torn to pieces by 
them ; when, even if they were then desirous to save her, 
they would not have the power. 

VI. But this restriction who can appi'ove, which would 
interdict the wise man from taking any share in the gov 
ernment beyond such as the occasion and necessity may 
compel him to? As if any greater necessity could pos 
sibly happen to any man than happened to me. In which, 
how could I have acted if I had not been consul at the 
time ? and how could I have been a consul unless I had 
maintained that course of life from my childhood which 
raised me from the order of knights, in which I was born, 
to the very highest station? You cannot produce extem 
pore, and just when you please, the power of assisting a 
commonwealth, although it may be severely pressed by 
dangers, unless you have attained the position which en 
ables you legally to do so. And what most surprises me 
in the discourses of learned men is to hear those persons 
who confess themselves incapable of steering the vessel of 
the State in smooth seas (which, indeed, they never learn 
ed, and never cared to know) profess themselves ready to 
assume the helm amidst the fiercest tempests. For those 
men are accustomed to say openly, and indeed to boast 
greatly, that they have never learned, and have never taken 


the least pains to explain, the principles of either establish 
ing or maintaining a commonwealth; and they look on 
this practical science as one which belongs not to men of 
learning and wisdom, but to those who have made it their 
especial study. How, then, can it be reasonable for such 
men to promise their assistance to the State, when they 
shall be compelled to it by necessity, while they are igno 
rant how to govern the republic when no necessity press 
es upon it, which is a much more easy task? Indeed, 
though it were true that the wise man loves not to thrust 
himself of his own accord into the administration of pub 
lic affairs, but that if circumstances oblige him to it, then 
he does not refuse the office, yet I think that this science 
of civil legislation should in no wise be neglected by the 
philosopher, because all resources ought to be ready to his 
hand, which he knows not how soon he may be called on 
to use. 

VII. I have spoken thus at large for this reason, because 
in this work I have proposed to myself and undertaken a 
discussion on the government of a state; and in order to 
render it useful, I was bound, in the first place, to do away 
with this pusillanimous hesitation to mingle in public af 
fairs. If there be any, therefore, who are too much influ 
enced by the authority of the philosophers, let them con 
sider the subject for a moment, and be guided by the opin 
ions of those men whose authority and credit are greatest 
among learned men ; whom I look upon, though some of 
them have not personally governed any state, as men who 
have nevertheless discharged a kind of office in the repub 
lic, inasmuch as they have made many investigations into, 
and left many writings concerning, state affairs. As to 
those whom the Greeks entitle the Seven Wise Men, I find 
that they almost all lived in the middle of public business. 
Nor, indeed, is there anything in which human virtue can 
more closely resemble the divine powers than in establish 
ing new states, or in preserving those already established. 

VIII. And concerning these affairs, since it has been our 
good fortune to achieve something worthy of memorial in 
the government of our country, and also to have acquired 
some facility of explaining the powers and resources of 
politics, we can treat of this subject with the weight of 


personal experience and the habit of instruction and illus 
tration. Whereas before us many have been skilful in 
theory, though no exploits of theirs are recorded ; and 
many others have been men of consideration in action, 
but unfamiliar with the arts of exposition. Nor, indeed, is 
it at all our intention to establish a new and self-invented 
system of government; but our purpose is rather to recall 
to memory a discussion of the most illustrious men of their 
age in our Commonwealth, which you and I, in our youth, 
when at Smyrna, heard mentioned by Publius Rutilius 
Rufus, who reported to us a conference of many days in 
which, in my opinion, there was nothing omitted that could 
throw light on political affairs. 

IX. For when, in the year of the consulship of Tudi- 
tanus and Aquilius, Scipio Africanus, the son of Paulus 
^Emilius, formed the project of spending the Latin holi 
days at his country-seat, where his most intimate friends 
had promised him frequent visits during this season of 
relaxation, on the first morning of the festival, his ne 
phew, Quintus Tubero, made his appearance ; and when 
Scipio had greeted him heartily and embraced him How 
is it, my dear Tubero, said he, that I see you so early? 
For these holidays must afford you a capital opportunity 
of pursuing your favorite studies. Ah ! replied Tubero, 
I can study my books at any time, for they are always 
disengaged ; but it is a great privilege, my Scipio, to find 
you at leisure, especially in this restless period of public 
affairs. You certainly have found me so, said Scipio, but, 
to speak truth, I am rather relaxing from business than 
from study. Nay, said Tubero, you must try to relax 
from your studies too, for here are several of us, as we 
have appointed, all ready, if it suits your convenience, to 
aid you in getting through this leisure time of yours. I 
am very willing to consent, answered Scipio, and we may 
be able to compare notes respecting the several topics that 
interest us. 

X. Be it so, said Tubero ; and since you invite me to 
discussion, and present the opportunity, let us first exam 
ine, before any one else arrives, what can be the nature 
of the parhelion, or double sun, which was mentioned in 
the senate. Those that affirm they witnessed this prodi- 


gy are neither feAV nor unworthy of credit, so that there 
is more reason for investigation than incredulity. 1 

Ah ! said Scipio, I Avish we had our friend Pana3tius 
with us, who is fond of investigating all things of this 

7 O O O 

kind, but especially all celestial phenomena. As for ray 
opinion, Tubero, for I always tell you just what I think, 
I hardly agree in these subjects with that friend of mine, 
since, respecting things of which we can scarcely form a 
conjecture as to their character, he is as positive as if he 
had seen them with his own eyes and felt them with his 
own hands. And I cannot but the more admire the wis 
dom of Socrates, who discarded all anxiety respecting 
things of this kind, and affirmed that these inquiries con 
cerning the secrets of nature were either above the efforts 
of human reason, or were absolutely of no consequence at 
all to human life. 

But, then, my Africanus, replied Tubero, of what credit 
is the tradition which states that Socrates rejected all 
these physical investigations, and confined his whole at 
tention to men and manners ? For, with respect to him 
what better authority can we cite than Plato ? in many 
passages of whose works Socrates speaks in such a man 
ner that even when he is discussing morals, and virtues, 
and even public affairs and politics, he endeavors to inter 
weave, after the fashion of Pythagoras, the doctrines of 
arithmetic, geometry, and harmonic proportions with them. 

That is true, replied Scipio ; but you are aware, I be 
lieve, that Plato, after the death of Socrates, was induced 
to visit Egypt by his love of science, and that after that 
he proceeded to Italy and Sicily, from his desire of un 
derstanding the Pythagorean dogmas; that he conversed 
much with Archytas of Tarentum and Timoms of Locris ; 

1 This phenomenon of the parhelion, or mock sun, which so puzzled 
Cicero's interlocutors, has been very satisfactorily explained by modem sci 
ence. The parhelia are formed by the reflection of the sunbeams on a 
cloud properly situated. They usually accompany the corona?, or lumi 
nous circles, and are placed in the same circumference, and ut the same 
height. Their colors resemble that of the rainbow ; the red and yellow 
nre towards the side of the sun, and the blue and violet on the other. 
There are, however, corona; sometimes seen without parhelia, and vice 
versa. Parhelia are double, triple, etc., and in 1029, a. parhelion of five 
suns was seen at Koine, and another of six suns at Aries, 1G6G. 


that he collected the works of Philolaus ; and that, find 
ing in these places the renown of Pythagoras flourishing, 
he addicted himself exceedingly to the disciples of Pythag 
oras, and their studies ; therefore, as he loved Socrates 
with his whole heart, and wished to attribute all great 
discoveries to him, he interwove the Socratic elegance 
and subtlety of eloquence with somewhat of the obscurity 
of Pythagoras, and with that notorious gravity of his di 
versified arts. 

XL When Scipio had spoken thus, he suddenly saw 
Lucius Furius approaching, and saluting him, and em 
bracing him most affectionately, he gave him a seat on his 
own couch. And as soon as Publius Rutilius, the worthy 
reporter of the conference to us, had arrived, when we had 
saluted him, he placed him by the side of Tubero. Then 
said Furius, What is it that you are about? Has oxir 
entrance at all interrupted any conversation of yours? 
By no means, said Scipio, for you yourself too are in the 
habit of investigating carefully the subject which Tubero 
was a little before proposing to examine ; and our f riend 
Rutilius, even under the walls of Numantia, was in the 
habit at times of conversing with me on questions of the 
same kind. What, then, was the subject of your discus 
sion ? said Philus. We were talking, said Scipio, of the 
double suns that recently appeared, and I wish, Philus, to 
hear what you think of them. 

XII. Just as he was speaking, a boy announced that 
Lrclius was coming to call on him, and that he had already 
left his house. Then Scipio, putting on his sandals and 
robes, immediately went forth from his chamber, and when 
he had walked a little time in the portico, he met La3lius, 
and welcomed him and those that accompanied him, name 
ly, Spurius Mummius, to whom he was greatly attached, 
and C. Fannius and Quintus ScaBvola, sons-in-law of Lseli- 
us, two very intelligent young men, and now of the qures- 
torian age. 1 

When he had saluted them all, he returned through the 
portico, placing Laelius in the middle; for there was in 
their friendship a sort of law of reciprocal courtesy, so 

1 There is a little uncertainty as to what this age was, but it was prob 
ably about twenty-five. 


that in the camp Lfelius paid Scipio almost divine honors, 
on account of his eminent renown in war and in private 
life; in his turn Scipio reverenced Laslius, even as a father, 
because he was older than himself. 

Then after they had exchanged a few words, as they 
walked up and down, Scipio, to whom their visit was ex 
tremely welcome and agreeable, wished to assemble them 
in a sunny corner of the gardens, because it was still win 
ter ; and when they had agreed to this, there came in an 
other friend, a learned man, much beloved and esteemed 
by all of them, M. Manilius, who, after having been most 
warmly welcomed by Scipio and the rest, seated himself 
next to Lffilius. 

XIII. Then Philus, commencing the conversation, said : 
It does not appear to me that the presence of our new 
guests need alter the subject of our discussion, but only 
that it should induce us to treat it more philosophically, 
and in a manner more worthy of our increased audience. 
What do you allude to? said Laelius; or what was the 
discussion we broke in upon ? Scipio was asking me, re 
plied Philus, what I thought of the parhelion, or mock sun, 
whose recent apparition was so strongly attested. 

Lcelius. Do yon say then, my Philus, that we have suf 
ficiently examined those questions which concern our own 
houses and the Commonwealth, that we begin to investi 
gate the celestial mysteries ? 

And Philus replied: Do you think, then, that it does 
not concern our houses to know what happens in that vast 
home which is not included in walls of human fabrication, 
but which embraces the entire universe a home which 
the Gods share with us, as the common country of all in 
telligent beings? Especially when, if we are ignorant of 
these things, there are also many great practical truths 
which result from them, and which bear directly on the 
welfare of our race, of which we must be also ignorant. 
And here I can speak for myself, as well as for you, Loe- 
lius, and all men who are ambitious of wisdom, that the 
knowledge and consideration of the facts of nature are by 
themselves very delightful. 

Lodius. I have no objection to the discussion, especial 
ly as it is holiday-time with us. But cannot we have the 



pleasure of heaving you resume it, ov are we come too 

Philus. We have not yet commenced the discussion, 
and since the question remains entire and unbroken, I 
shall have the greatest pleasure, my La3lius, in handing 
over the argument to you. 

Lcelius. No, I had much rather hear you, unless, indeed, 
Manilius thinks himself able to compromise the suit be 
tween the two suns, that they may possess heaven as joint 
sovereigns without intruding on each other's empire. 

Then Manilius said : Are you going, Lrclius, to ridicule 
a science in which, in the first place, I myself excel; and, 
secondly, without which no one can distinguish what is 
his own, and what is another's? But to return to the 
point. Let us now at present listen to Philus, who seems 
to me to have started a greater question than any of those 
that have engaged the attention of either Publius Mucius 
or myself. 

XIV. Then Philus said: I am not about to bring you 
anything new, or anything which has been thought over 
or discovered by me myself. But I recollect that Caius 
Sulpicius Gallus, who was a man of profound learning, as 
you are aware, when this same thing was reported to have 
taken place in his time, while he was staying in the house 
of Marcus Marcellus, who had been his colleague in the 
consulship, asked to see a celestial globe which Marcellus's 
grandfather had saved after the capture of Syracuse from 
that magnificent and opulent city, without bringing to his 
own home any other memorial out of so great a booty; 
which I had often heard mentioned on account of the 
great fame of Archimedes ; but its appearance, however, 
did not seem to me particularly striking. For that other 
is more elegant in form, and more generally known, which 
was made by the same Archimedes, and deposited by the 
same Marcellus in the Temple of Virtue at Rome. But 
as soon as Gallus had begun to explain, in a most scien 
tific manner, the principle of this machine, I felt that the 
Sicilian geometrician must have possessed a genius supe 
rior to anything we usually conceive to belong to our nat 
ure. For Gallus assured us that that other solid and com 
pact globe was a very ancient invention, and that the first 


model had been originally made by Thales of Miletus. 
That afterward Eudoxus of Cnidns, a disciple of Plato, 
had traced on its surface the stars that appear in the sky, 
and that many years subsequently, borrowing from Eudox 
us this beautiful design and representation, Aratus had il 
lustrated it in his verses, not by any science of astronomy, 
but by the ornament of poetic description. He added that 
the figure of the globe, which displayed the motions of the 
sun and moon, and the five planets, or wandering stars, 
could not be represented by the primitive solid globe; and 
that in this the invention of Archimedes was admirable, 
because he had calculated how a single revolution should 
maintain unequal and diversified progressions in dissimilar 
motions. In fact, when Gallus moved this globe, we ob 
served that the moon succeeded the sun by as many turns 
of the wheel in the machine as days in the heavens. From 
whence it resulted that the progress of the sun was mark 
ed as in the heavens, and that the moon touched the point 
where she is obscured by the earth's shadow at the instant 
the sun appears opposite. 1 * * * 

XV. * * * " I had myself a great affection for this Gal 
lus, and I know that he was very much beloved and es 
teemed by my father Paulus. I recollect that when I was 
very young, when my father, as consul, commanded in 
Macedonia, and we were in the camp, our army was seized 
with a pious terror, because suddenly, in a clear night, the 
bright and full moon became eclipsed. And Gallus, who 
was then our lieutenant, the year before that in which he 
was elected consul, hesitated not, next morning, to state 
in the camp that it was no prodigy, and that the phenom 
enon which had then appeared would always appear at 
certain periods, when the sun was so placed that he could 
not affect the moon with his light. 

1 Cicero here gives a very exact and correct account of the planeta 
rium of Archimedes, which is so often noticed by the ancient astrono 
mers. It no doubt corresponded in a great measure to our modem 
planetarium, or orrery, invented by the earl of that name. This elabo 
rate machine, whose manufacture requires the most exact and critical 
science, is of the greatest service to those who study the revolutions of 
the stars, for astronomic, astrologic, or meteorologic purposes. 

3 The end of the fourteenth chapter and the first words of the fifteenth 
are lost ; hut it is plain that in the fifteenth it is Sripio who is speaking. 


But do you mean, said Tubero, that lie dared to speak 
thus to men almost entirely uneducated and ignorant? 

Scipio. lie did, and with great * * * for his opinion 
was no result of insolent ostentation, nor was his language 
unbecoming the dignity of so wise a man : indeed, he per 
formed a very noble action in thus freeing his countrymen 
from the terrors of an idle superstition. 

XVI. And they relate that in a similar way, in the great 
war in which the Athenians and Lacedemonians contend 
ed with such violent resentment, the famous Pericles, the 
first man of his country in credit, eloquence, and political 
genius, observing the Athenians overwhelmed with an ex 
cessive alarm during an eclipse of the sun which caused 
a sudden darkness, told them, what he had learned in the 
school of Anaxagoras, that these phenomena necessarily 
happened at precise and regular periods when the body of 
the moon was interposed between the sun and the earth, 
and that if they happened not before every new moon, 
still they could not possibly happen except at the exact 
time of the new moon. And when he had proved this 
truth by his reasonings, he freed the people from their 
alarms ; for at that period the doctrine was new and un 
familiar that the sun was accustomed to be eclipsed by 
the interposition of the moon, which fact they say that 
Thales of Miletus was the first to discover. Afterward 
my friend Ennius appears to have been acquainted with 
the same theory, who, writing about 350 1 years after the 
foundation of Rome, says, " In the nones of June the sun 
was covered by the moon and night." The calculations 
in the astronomical art have attained such perfection that 
from that day, thus described to us by Ennius and record 
ed in the pontifical registers, the anterior eclipses of the 
sun have been computed as far back as the nones of July 
in the reign of Romulus, when that eclipse took place, in 
the obscurity of which it was affirmed that Virtue bore 
Romulus to heaven, in spite of the perishable nature which 
carried him off by the common fate of humanity. 

1 There is evidently some error in the text here, for Ennius was bom 
515 A.U.C., was a personal friend of the elder Africanus, and died about 
575 A.U.C., so that it is plain that we ought to read in the text 550, 
not 350. 


XVII. Then said Tubero : Do not you think, Scipio, 
that tliis astronomical science, which every day proves so 
useful, just now appeared in a different light to you, 1 * * * 
which the rest may see. Moreover, who can think any 
thing in human affairs of brilliant importance who has 
penetrated this starry empire of the gods? Or who can 
think anything connected with mankind long who has 
learned to estimate the nature of eternity ? or glorious 
who is aware of the insignificance of the size of the earth, 
even in its whole extent, and especially in the portion 
which men inhabit? And when we consider that almost 
imperceptible point which we ourselves occupy unknown 
to the majority of nations, can we still hope that our name 
and reputation can be widely circulated? And then our 
estates and edifices, our cattle, and the enormous treasures 
of our gold and silver, can they be esteemed or denomi 
nated as desirable goods by him who observes their per 
ishable profit, and their contemptible use, and their uncer 
tain domination, often falling into the possession of the 
very worst men ? How happy, then, ought we to esteem 
that man who alone has it in his power, not by the law 
of the Romans, but by the privilege of philosophers, to en 
joy all things as his own ; not by any civil bond, but by 
the common right of nature, which denies that anything can 
really be possessed by any one but him who understands 
its true nature and use; who reqkons our dictatorships 
and consulships rather in the rank of necessary offices than 
desirable employments, and thinks they must be endured 
rather as acquittances of our debt to our country than 
sought for the sake of emolument or glory the man, in 
short, who can apply to himself the sentence which Cato 
tells us my ancestor Af ricanus loved to repeat, " that he 
was never so busy as when he did nothing, and never less 
solitary than when alone." 

For who can believe that Dionysius, when after every 
possible effort he ravished from his fellow-citizens their 
liberty, had performed a nobler work than Archimedes, 
when, without appearing to be doing anything, he manu 
factured the globe which we have just been describing? 

1 Two pages arc lost here. Afterward it is again Scipio who is 


Who docs not see that those men are in reality more soli 
tary who, in the midst of a crowd, find no one with whom 
they can converse congenially than those who, without 
witnesses, hold communion with themselves, and enter 
into the secret counsels of the sagest philosophers, while 
they delight themselves in their writings and discoveries? 
And who would think any one richer than the man who 
is in want of nothing which nature requires; or more 
powerful than he who has attained all that she has need of ; 
or happier than he who is free from all mental perturba 
tion ; or more secure in future than he who carries all his 
property in himself, which is thus secured from shipwreck? 
And what power, what magistracy, what royalty, can be 
preferred to a wisdom which, looking down on all terres 
trial objects as low and transitory things, incessantly di 
rects its attention to eternal and immutable verities, and 
which is persuaded that though others are called men, 
none are really so but those who are refined by the appro 
priate acts of humanity? 

In this sense an expression of Plato or some other phi 
losopher appears to me exceedingly elegant, who, when a 
tempest had driven his ship on an unknown country and 
a desolate shore, during the alarms with which their ig 
norance of the region inspired his companions, observed, 
they say, geometrical figures traced in the sand, on which 
he immediately told them to be of good cheer, for he had 
observed the indications of Man. A conjecture he de 
duced, not from the cultivation of the soil which he beheld, 
but from the symbols of science. For this reason, Tubero, 
learning and learned men, and these your favorite studies, 
have always particularly pleased me. 

XVIII. Then La?lius replied : I cannot venture, Scipio, 
to answer your arguments, or to [maintain the discussion 
either against] you, Philus, or Manilius. 1 * * * 

We had a friend in Tubero's father's family, who in 
these respects may serve him as a model. 

Sextus so wise, and ever on his guard. 

Wise and cautious indeed he was, as Ennius justly de 
scribes him not because he searched for what he could 
1 Two pages are lost here. 


never find, but because he knew how to answer those who 
prayed for deliverance from cares and difficulties. It is 
he who, reasoning against the astronomical studies of Gal- 
lu, used frequently to repeat these words of Achilles iu 
the Iphigenia: 1 

They note the astrologic signs of heaven, 
Whene'er the goats or scorpions of great Jove, 
Or other monstrous names of brutal forms, 
Kise in the zodiac; but not one regards 
The sensible facts of earth, on which we tread, 
While gazing on the starry prodigies. 

He used, however, to say (and I have often listened to 
him with pleasure) that for his part he thought that Ze- 
tlms, in the piece of Pacuvius, was too inimical to learning. 
He much preferred the Neoptolemus of Ennius, who pro 
fesses himself desirous of philosophizing only in modera 
tion ; for that he did not think it right to be wholly de 
voted to it. But though the studies of the Greeks have so 
many charms for you, there are others, perhaps, nobler and 
more extensive, which we may be better able to apply to 
the service of real life, and even to political affairs. As to 
these abstract sciences, their utility, if they possess any, 
lies principally in exciting and stimulating the abilities of 
youth, so that they more easily acquire more important ac 

XIX. Then Tubero said : I do not mean to disagree 
with you, Lffilius ; but, pray, what do you call more impor 
tant studies ? 

Lodius. I will tell you frankly, though perhaps you will 
think lightly of my opinion, since you appeared so eager 
in interrogating Scipio respecting the celestial phenomena; 
but I happen to think that those things which are every 
day before our eyes are more particularly deserving of our 
attention. Why should the child of Paulus ^Emilins, the 
nephew of ^Emilius, the descendant of such a noble family 
and so glorious a republic, inquire how there can be two 
suns in heaven, and not ask how there can be two senates 
in one Commonwealth, and, as it were, two distinct peo- 

1 Both Ennius and Naevius wrote tragedies called " Iphigenia." Mai 
thinks the text here corrupt, and expresses some doubt whether there is 
a quotation here at all. 


pies ? For, as you see, the death of Tiberius Gracchus, 
and the whole system of his tribuneship,has divided one 
people into two parties. But the slanderers and the ene 
mies of Scipio, encouraged by P. Crassus and Appius 
Claudius, maintained, after the death of these two chiefs, 
a division of nearly half the senate, under the influence of 
Metellus and Mucius. Nor would they permit the man 1 
who alone could have been of service to help us out of our 
difficulties during the movement of the Latins and their al 
lies towards rebellion, violating all our treaties in the pres 
ence of factious triumvirs, and creating every day some 
fresh intrigue, to the disturbance of the worthier and 
wealthier citizens. This is the reason, young men, if you 
will listen to me, why you should regard this new sun 
with less alarm ; for, whether it does exist, or whether it 
does not exist, it is, as you see, quite harmless to us. As 
to the manner of its existence, we can know little or noth 
ing ; and even if we obtained the most perfect understand 
ing of it, this knowledge would make us but little wiser or 
happier. But that there should exist a united people and 
a united senate is a thing which actually may be brought 
about, and it will be a great evil if it is not ; and that it 
does not exist at present we are aware ; and we see that 
if it can be effected, our lives will be both better and hap 

XX. Then Mucius said : What, then, do you consider, 
my Lnelius, should be our best arguments in endeavoring 
to bring about the object of your wishes ? 

Lcelius. Those sciences and arts which teach us how 
we may be most useful to the State ; for I consider that 
the most glorious office of wisdom, and the noblest proof 
and business of virtue. In order, therefore, that we may 
consecrate these holidays as much as possible to conversa 
tions which may be profitable to the Commonwealth, let 
us beg Scipio to explain to us what in his estimation ap 
pears to be the best form of government. Then let us 
pass on to other points, the knowledge of which may lead 
us, as I hope, to sound political views, and unfold the 
causes of the dangers which now threaten us. 

XXI. When Philus,Manilius, and Mummius had all ex- 

1 He means Scipio himself. 


pressed their great approbation of this idea 1 * * * I have 
ventured [to open our discussion] in this way, not only 
because it is but just that on State politics the chief man 
in the State should be the principal speaker, but also be 
cause I recollect that you, Scipio, were formerly very much 
in the habit of conversing with Pana3tius and Polybius, 
two Greeks, exceedingly learned in political questions, and 
that you are master of many arguments by which yon prove 
that by far the best condition of government is that which 
our ancestors have handed down to us. And as you, there 
fore, are familiar with this subject, if you will explain to 
us your views respecting the general principles of a state 
(I speak for my friends as well as myself), we shall feel ex 
ceedingly obliged to you. 

XXII. Then Scipio said : I must acknowledge that there 
is no subject of meditation to which my mind naturally 
turns with more ardor and intensity than this very one 
which Lffilius has proposed to us. And, indeed, as I see 
that in every profession, every artist who would distinguish 
himself, thinks of, and aims at, and labors for no other ob 
ject but that of attaining perfection in his art, should not 
I, whose main business, according to the example of my 
father and my ancestors, is the advancement and right ad 
ministration of government, be confessing myself more in 
dolent than any common mechanic if I were to bestow on 
this noblest of sciences less attention and labor than they 
devote to their insignificant trades? However, I am nei 
ther entirely satisfied with the decisions which the great 
est and wisest men of Greece have left us ; nor, on the oth 
er hand, do I venture to prefer my own opinions to theirs. 
Therefore, I must request you not to consider me either 
entirely ignorant of the Grecian literature, nor yet disposed, 
especially in political questions, to yield it the pre-eminence 
over our own ; but rather to regard me as a true-born Ro 
man, not illiberally instructed by the care of my father, and 
inflamed with the desire of knowledge, even from my boy 
hood, but still even more familiar with domestic precepts 
and practices than the literature of books. 

XXIII. On this Philus said : I have no doubt, my 
Scipio, that no one is superior to you in natural genius, 

1 There is again a hiatus. What follows is spoken by Laelius. 


and that you are very far superior to every one in the 
practical experience of national government and of impor 
tant business. We are also acquainted with the course 
which your studies have at all times taken ; and if, as you 
say, you have given so much attention to this science and 
art of politics, we cannot be too much obliged to Lailius 
for introducing the subject : for I trust that what we shall 
hear from you will be far more useful and available than 
all the w.ritings put together which the Greeks have writ 
ten for us. 

Then Scipio replied : You are raising a very high expec 
tation of my discourse, such as is a most oppressive bur 
den to a man who is required to discuss grave subjects. 

And Philus said : Although that may be a difficulty, 
my Scipio, still you will be sure to conquer it, as you al 
ways do; nor is there any danger of eloquence failing you, 
when you begin to speak on the affairs of a common 

XXIV. Then Scipio proceeded : I will do what you 
wish, as far as I can ; and I shall enter into the discussion 
under favor of that rule which, I think, should be adopted 
by all p'ersons in disputations of this kind, if they wish to 
avoid being misunderstood ; namely, that when men have 
agreed respecting the proper name of the matter under 
discussion, it should be stated what that name exactly 
menus, and what it legitimately includes. And when that 
point is settled, then it is fit to enter on the discussion ; 
for it will never be possible to arrive at an understand 
ing of what the character of the subject of the discussion 
is, unless one first understands exactly what it is. Since, 
then, our investigations relate to a commonwealth, we must 
first examine what this name properly signifies. 

And when Laalius had intimated his approbation of this 
course, Scipio continued : 

I shall not adopt, said he, in so clear and simple a man 
ner that system of discussion which goes back to first 
principles ; as learned men often do in this sort of discus 
sion, so as to go back to the first meeting of male and fe 
male, and then to the first birth and formation of the first 
family, and define over and over again what there is in 
words, and in how many manners each thing is stated. 


For, as I am speaking to men of prudence, who have act 
ed with the greatest glory in the Commonwealth, both in 
peace and war, I will t;ike care not to allow the subject of 
the discussion itself to be clearer than my explanation of 
it. Nor have I undertaken this task with the design of 
examining all its minuter points, like a school-master; nor 
will I promise you in the following discourse not to omit 
any single particular. 

Then Laclius said : For my part, I am impatient for ex 
actly that kind of disquisition which you promise us. 

XXV. Well, then, said Africanus, a commonwealth is a 
constitution of the .entire people. But the people is not 
every association of men, however congregated, but the 
association of the entire number, bound together by the 
compact of justice, and the communication of utility. The 
first cause of this association is not so much the weakness 
of man as a certain spirit of congregation which naturally 
belongs to him. For the human race is not a race of iso 
lated individuals, wandering and solitary ; but it is so con 
stituted that even in the affluence of all things [and with 
out any need of reciprocal assistance, it spontaneously 
seeks society]. 

XXVI. [It is necessary to presuppose] these original 
seeds, as it were, since we cannot discover any primary 
establishment of the other virtues, or even of a common 
wealth itself. These unions, then, formed by the principle 
which I have mentioned, established their head-quarters 
originally in certain central positions, for the convenience 
of the whole population ; and having fortified them by 
natural and artificial means, they called this collection of 
houses a city or town, distinguished by temples and pub 
lic squares. Every people, therefore, which consists of 
such an association of the entire multitude as I have de 
scribed, every city which consists of an assemblage of the 
people, and every commonwealth which embraces every 
member of these associations, must be regulated by a cer 
tain authority, in order to be permanent. 

This intelligent authority should always refer itself to 
that grand first principle which established the Common 
wealth. It must be deposited in the hands of one supreme 
person, or intrusted to the administration of certain dele- 


gated rulers, or undertaken by the whole multitude. When 
the direction of all depends on one person, we call this in 
dividual a king, and this form of political constitution a 
kingdom. When it is in the power of privileged delegates, 
the State is said to be ruled by an aristocracy ; and when 
the people are all in all, they call it a democracy, or popu 
lar constitution. And if the tie of social affection, which 
originally united men in political associations for the sake 
of public interest, maintains its force, each of these forms 
of government is, I will not say perfect, nor, in my opin 
ion, essentially good, but tolerable, and such that one may 
accidentally be better than another : either a just and wise 
king, or a selection of the most eminent citizens, or even 
the populace itself (though this is the least commendable 
form), may, if there be no interference of crime and cupid 
ity, form a constitution sufficiently secure. 

XXVII. But in a monarchy the other members of the 
State are often too much deprived of public counsel and 
jurisdiction; and under the rule of an aristocracy the 
multitude can hardly possess its due share of liberty, since 
it is allowed no share in the public deliberation, and no 
power. And when all things are carried by a democracy, 
although it be just and moderate, yet its very equality is 
a culpable levelling, inasmuch as it allows no gradations 
of rank. Therefore, even if Cyrus, the King of the Per 
sians, was a most righteous and wise monarch, I should 
still think that the interest of the people (for this is, as I 
have said before, the same as the Commonwealth) could 
not be very effectually promoted when all things depended 
on the beck and nod of one individual. And though at 
present the people of Marseilles, our clients, are governed 
with the greatest justice by elected magistrates of the 
highest rank, still there is always in this condition of the 
people a certain appearance of servitude; and when the 
Athenians, at a certain period, having demolished their 
Areopagus, conducted all public affairs by the acts and 
decrees \>i the democracy alone, their State, as it no longer 
contained a distinct gradation of ranks, was no longer able 
to retain its original fair appearance. 

XXVIII. I have reasoned thus on the three forms of 
government, not looking on them in their disorganized 


and confused conditions, but in their proper and regular 
fid mi lustration. These three particular forms, however, 
contained in themselves, from the first, the faults and de 
fects I have mentioned ; but they have also other danger 
ous vices, for there is not one of these three forms of gov 
ernment which has not a precipitous and slippery passage 
down to some proximate abuse. For, after thinking of 
that endurable, or, as you will have it, most amiable king, 
Cyrus to name him in preference to any one else then, 
to produce a change in our minds, we behold the barbar 
ous Phalaris, that model of tyranny, to which the mo 
narchical authority is easily abused by a facile and natural 
inclination. And, in like manner, along-side of the wise 
aristocracy of Marseilles, we might exhibit the oligarchical 
faction of the thirty tyrants which once existed at Athens. 
And, not to seek for other instances, among the same 
Athenians, we can show you that when unlimited power 
was cast into the hands of the people, it inflamed the fury 
of the multitude, and aggravated that universal license 
which ruined their State. 1 * * * 

XXIX. The worst condition of things sometimes results 
from a confusion of those factious tyrannies into which 
kings, aristocrats, and democrats are apt to degenerate. 
For thus, from these diverse elements, there occasionally 
arises (as I have said before) a new kind of government. 
And wonderful indeed are the revolutions and periodical 
returns in natural constitutions of such alternations and 
vicissitudes, which it is the part of the wise politician to 
investigate with the closest attention. But to calculate 
their approach, and to join to this foresight the skill which 
moderates the course of events, and retains in a steady 
hand the reins of that authority which safely conducts the 
people through all the dangers to which they expose them 
selves, is the work of a most illustrious citizen, and of al 
most divine genius. 

There is a fourth kind of government, therefore, which, 
in my opinion, is preferable to all these : it is that mixed 
and moderate government which is composed of the three 
particular forms which I have already noticed. 

XXX. Lcelius. I am not ignorant, Scipio, that such is 

1 Again two pages are lost. 


your opinion, for I li.ivc often heard you say BO. But I do 
not the less desire, if it is not giving you too much trou 
ble, to hear which you consider the best of these three 
forms of commonwealths. For it may be of some use in 
considering 1 * * * 

XXXI. * * * And each commonwealth corresponds to 
the nature and will of him who governs it. Therefore, in 
no other constitution than that in which the people exer 
cise sovereign power has liberty any sure abode, than which 
there certainly is no more desirable blessing. And if it be 
not equally established for every one, it is not even liber 
ty at all. And how can there be this character of equali 
ty, I do not say under a monarchy, where slavery is least 
disguised or doubtful, but even in those constitutions in 
which the people are free indeed in words, for they give 
their suffrages, they elect officers, they are canvassed and 
solicited for magistracies ; but yet they only grant those 
things which they are obliged to grant whether they will 
or not, and which are not really in their free power, though 
others ask them for them ? For they are not themselves 
admitted to the government, to the exercise of public au 
thority, or to offices of select judges, which are permitted 
to those only of ancient families and large fortunes. But 
in a free people, as among the Rhodians and Athenians, 
there is no citizen who 2 * * * 

XXXII. * * * No sooner is one man, or several, elevated 
by wealth and power, than they say that * * * arise from 
their pride and arrogance, when the idle and the timid 
give way, and bow down to the insolence of riches. But 
if the people knew how to maintain its rights, then they 
say that nothing could be more glorious and prosperous 
than democracy; inasmuch as they themselves would be 
the sovereign dispensers of laws, judgments, war, peace, 
public treaties, and, finally, of the fortune and life of each 
individual citizen ; and this condition of things is the only 
one which, in their opinion, can be really called a common 
wealth, that is to say, a constitution of the people. It is 
on this principle that, according to them, a people often 
vindicates its liberty from the domination of kings and 

1 Again two pnges are lost. It is evident that Scipio is speaking 
again in cap. xxxi. a Again two pages are lost. 


nobles; while, on the other hand, kings are not sought 
for among free peoples, nor are the power and wealth 
of aristocracies. They deny, moreover, that it is fair to 
reject this general constitution of freemen, on account of 
the vices of the unbridled populace; but that if the peo 
ple be united and inclined, and directs all its efforts to 
the safety and freedom of the community, nothing can be 
stronger or more unchangeable ; and they assert that this 
necessary union is easily obtained in a republic so consti 
tuted that the good of all classes is the same; while the 
conflicting interests that prevail in other constitutions in 
evitably produce dissensions; therefore, say they, when 
the senate had the ascendency, the republic had no stabil 
ity ; and when kings possess the power, this blessing is 
still more rare, since, as Ennius expresses it, 

In kingdoms there's no faith, and little love. 

Wherefore, since the law is the bond of civil society, and 
the justice of the law equal, by what rule can the associa 
tion of citizens be held together, if the condition of the 
citizens be not equal? For if the fortunes of men cannot 
be reduced to this equality if genius cannot be equally 
the property of all rights, at least, should be equal among 
those who are citizens of the same republic. For what is 
a republic but an association of rights? 1 * * * 

XXXIII. But as to the other political constitutions, 
these democratical advocates do not think they are wor 
thy of being distinguished by the name which they claim. 
For why, say they, should we apply the name of king, the 
title of Jupiter the Beneficent, and not rather the title of 
tyrant, to a man ambitious of sole authority and power, 
lording it over a degraded multitude ? For a tyrant may 
be as merciful as a king may be oppressive ; so that the 
whole difference to the people is, whether they serve an in 
dulgent master or a cruel one, since serve some one they 
must. But how could Sparta, at the period of the boasted 
superiority of her political institution, obtain a constant 
enjoyment of just and virtuous kings, when they necessa 
rily received an hereditary monarch, good, bad, or indiffer 
ent, because he happened to be of the blood royal? As to 
1 Again two pages are lost. 


aristocrats, Who will endure, say the)-, that men should 
distinguish themselves by such a title, and that not by the 
voice of the people, but by their own votes? For how is 
such a one judged to be best either in learning, sciences, 
or arts? 1 * * * 

XXXIV. * * * If it does so by hap-hazard, it will bo 
as easily upset as a vessel if the pilot were chosen by lot 
from among the passengers. But if a people, being free, 
chooses those to whom it can trust itself and, if it desires 
its own preservation, it will always choose the noblest 
then certainly it is in the counsels of the aristocracy that 
the safety of the S.tate consists, especially as nature has not 
only appointed that these superior men should excel the 
inferior sort in high virtue and courage, but has inspired 
the people also with the desire of obedience towards these, 
their natural lords. But they say this aristocratical State 
is destroyed by the depraved opinions of men, who, through 
ignorance of virtue (which, as it belongs to few, can be 
discerned and appreciated by few), imagine that not only 
rich and powerful men, but also those who are nobly born, 
are necessarily the best. And so when, through this pop 
ular error, the riches, and not the virtue, of a few men has 
taken possession of the State, these chiefs obstinately re 
tain the title of nobles, though they want the essence of 
nobility. For riches, fame, and power, without wisdom 
and a just method of regulating ourselves and command 
ing others, are full of discredit and insolent arrogance ; 
nor is there any kind of government more deformed than 
that in which the wealthiest are regarded as the noblest. 

But when virtue governs the Commonwealth, what can 
be more glorious? When he who commands the rest is 
himself enslaved by no lust or passion ; when he himself 
exhibits all the virtues to which he incites and educates 
the citizens ; when he imposes no law on the people which 
he does not himself observe, but presents his life as a liv 
ing law to his fellow-countrymen; if a single individual 
could thus suffice for all, there would be no need of more ; 
and if the community could find a chief ruler thus worthy 
of all their suffrages, none would require elected magis 

1 Here four pages are lost. 


It was the difficulty of forming plans which transferred 
the government from a king into the hands of many ; and 
the error and temerity of the people likewise transferred 
it from the hands of the many into those of the few. Thus, 
between the weakness of the monarch and the rashness 
of the multitude, the aristocrats have occupied the mid 
dle place, than which nothing can be better arranged ; and 
while they superintend the public interest, the people nec 
essarily enjoy the gi'eatest possible prosperity, being free 
from all care and anxiety, having intrusted their security 
to others, who ought sedulously to defend it, and not allow 
the people to suspect that their advantage is neglected by 
their rulers. 

For as to that equality of rights which democracies so 
loudly boast of, it can never be maintained ; for the peo 
ple themselves, so dissolute and so unbridled, are always 
inclined to flatter a number of demagogues ; and there is 

O O t 

in them a very great partiality for certain men and digni 
ties, so that their equality, so called, becomes most unfair 
and iniquitous. For as equal honor is given to the most 
noble and the most infamous, some of whom must exist in 
every State, then the equity which they eulogize becomes 
most inequitable an evil which never can happen in those 
states which are governed by aristocracies. These rea 
sonings, my Lffilius, and some others of the same kind, are 
usually brought forward by those that so highly extol this 
form of political constitution. 

XXXV. Then Lselius said : But you have not told us, 
Scipio, which of these three forms of government you 
yourself most approve. 

Scipio. You are right to shape your question, which of 
the three I most approve, for there is not one of them 
which I approve at all by itself, since, as I told you, I pre 
fer that government which is mixed and composed of all 
these forms, to any one of them taken separately. But if I 
must confine myself to one of these particular forms sim 
ply and exclusively, I must confess I prefer the royal one, 
and praise that as the first and best. In this, which I here 
choose to call the primitive form of government, I find the 
title of father attached to that of king, to express that he 
watches over the citizens as over his children, and endeav- 



ors rather to preserve them in freedom than reduce them 
to slavery. So that it is more advantageous for those who 
are insignificant in property and capacity to be supported 
by the care of one excellent and eminently powerful man. 
The nobles here present themselves, who profess that they 
can do all this in much better style; for they say that 
there is much more wisdom in many than in one, and at 
least as much faith and equity. And, last of all, come the 
people, who cry with a loud voice that they will render 
obedience neither to the one nor the few; that even to 
brute beasts nothing is so dear as liberty ; and that all 
men who serve either kings or nobles are deprived of it. 
Thus, the kings attract us by affection, the nobles by talent, 
the people by liberty ; and in the comparison it is hard to 
choose the best. 

Lcelius. I think so too, but yet it is impossible to de 
spatch the other branches of the question, if you leave this 
primary point undetermined. 

XXXVI. Scipio. We must then, I suppose, imitate 
Aratus, who, when he prepared himself to treat of great 
things, thought himself in duty bound to begin with Ju 

Lcelius. Wherefore Jupiter? and what is there in this 
discussion which resembles that poem ? 

Scipio. Why, it serves to teach us that we cannot bet 
ter commence our investigations than by invoking him 
whom, with one voice, both learned and unlearned extol as 
the universal king of all gods and men. 

How so ? said Lselius. 

Do you, then, asked Scipio, believe in nothing which is 
not before your eyes? whether these ideas have been es 
tablished by the chiefs of states for the benefit of society, 
that there might be believed to exist one Universal Mon 
arch in heaven, at whose nod (as Homer expresses it) all 
Olympus trembles, and that he might be accounted both 
king and father of all creatures; for there is great au 
thority, and there are many witnesses, if you choose to call 
all many, who attest that all nations have unanimously rec 
ognized, by the decrees of their chiefs, that nothing is bet 
ter than a king, since they think that all the Gods are gov 
erned by the divine power of one sovereign ; or if we sus- 


pect that this opinion rests on the error of the ignorant, 
and should be classed among the fables, let us listen to 
those universal testimonies of erudite men, who have, as it 
were, seen with their eyes those things to the knowledge 
of which we can hardly attain by report. 

What men do you mean ? said Loelius. 

Those, replied Scipio, who, by the investigation of nat 
ure, have arrived at the opinion that the whole universe 
[is animated] by a single Mind. 1 * * * 

XXXVII. But if you please, my Laelius, I will bring 
forward evidences which are neither too ancient nor in 
any respect barbarous. 

Those, said Lrelius, are what I want. 

Scipio. You are aware that it is now not four centuries 
since this city of ours has been without kings. 

Loelius. You are correct; it is less than four centuries. 

Scipio. Well, then, what are four centimes in the age 
of a state or city ? is it a long time ? 

Loelius. It hardly amounts to the age of maturity. 

Scipio. You say truly ; and yet not four centuries have 
elapsed since there was a king in Rome. 

Lcelius. And he was a proud king. 

Scipio. But who was his predecessor? 

Loelius. He was an admirably just one; and, indeed, we 
must bestow the same praise on all his predecessors as far 
back as Romulus, who reigned about six centuries ago. 

Scipio. Even he, then, is not very ancient. 

Loelius. No ; he reigned when Greece was already be 
coming old. 

Scipio. Agreed. Was Romulus, then, think you, king 
of a barbarous people ? 

Loelius. Why, as to that, if we were to follow the ex 
ample of the Greeks, who say that all people are either 
Greeks or barbarians, I am afraid that we must confess 
that he was a king of barbarians ; but if this name be 
longs rather to manners than to languages, then I believe 
the Greeks were just as barbarous as the Romans. 

Then Scipio said: But with respect to the present ques 
tion, we do not so much need to inquire into the nation as 
into the disposition. For if intelligent men, at a period so 
1 Here four pages are lost. 


little remote, desired the government of kings, you will 
confess that I am producing authorities that are neither 
antiquated, rude, nor insignificant. 

XXXVIII. Then Lielius said: I see, Scipio, that you 
are very sufficiently provided with authorities ; but with 
me, as with every fair judge, authorities are worth less 
than arguments. 

Scipio replied : Then, Lrelius, you shall yourself make 
use of an argument derived from your own senses. 

Lcelius. What senses do you mean ? 

Scipio. The feelings which you experience when at any 
time you happen to feel angry with any one. 

Lcelius. That happens rather oftener than I could wish. 

Scipio. Well, then, when you are angry, do you permit 
your anger to triumph over your judgment? 

No, by Hercules ! said Lffilius ; I imitate the famous Ar- 
chytas of Tarentum, who, when he came to his villa, and 
found all its arrangements were contrary to his orders, said 
to his steward, "Ah ! you unlucky scoundrel, I would flog 
you to death, if it were not that I am in a rage with you." 

Capital, said Scipio. Archytas, then, regarded unrea 
sonable anger as a kind of sedition and rebellion of nature 
which he sought to appease by reflection. And so, if we 
examine avarice, the ambition of power or of glory, or the 
lusts of concupiscence and licentiousness, we shall find a 
certain conscience in the mind of man, which, like a king, 
sways by the force of counsel all the inferior faculties and 
propensities ; and this, in truth, is the noblest portion of 
our nature ; for when conscience reigns, it allows no rest 
ing-place to lust, violence, or temerity. 

Lcelius. You have spoken the truth. 

Scipio. Well, then, does a mind thus governed and reg 
ulated meet your approbation ? 

Lcelius. More than anything upon earth. 

Scipio. Then you would not approve that the evil pas 
sions, which are innumerable, should expel conscience, and 
that lusts and animal propensities should assume an as 
cendency over us ? 

Lcelius. For my part, I can conceive nothing more 
wretched than a mind thus degraded, or a man animated 
by a soul so licentious. 


Scipio. You desire, then, that all the faculties of the 
mind should submit to a ruling power, and that conscience 
should reign over them all ? 

Lcelius. Certainly, that is my wish. 

Scipio. How, then, can you doubt what opinion to form 
on the subject of the Commonwealth ? in which, if the 
State is thrown into many hands, it is very plain that there 
will be no presiding authority; for if power be not united, 
it soon comes to nothing. 

XXXIX. Then LaBlius asked: But what difference is 
there, I should like to know, between the one and the 
many, if justice exists equally in many? 

And Scipio said : Since I see, my Laslius, that the au 
thorities I have adduced have no great influence on you, I 
must continue to employ you yourself as my witness in 
proof of what I am saying. 

In what way, said La3lius, are you going to make me 
again support your argument ? 

Scipio. Why, thus : I recollect, when we were lately at 
Formia?, that you told your servants repeatedly to obey the 
orders of more than one master only. 

Lcelius. To be sure, those of my steward. 

Scipio. What do you at home? Do you commit your 
affairs to the hands of many persons? 

Lcelius. No, I trust them to myself alone. 

Scipio. Well, in your whole establishment, is there any 
other master but yourself? 

Lcelius. Not one. 

Scipio. Then I think you must grant me that, as re 
spects the State, the government of single individuals, pro 
vided they are just, is superior to any other. 

Lcelius. You have conducted me to this conclusion, and 
I entertain very nearly that opinion. 

XL. And Scipio said: You would still further agree 
with me, my Laclius, if, omitting the common comparisons, 
that one pilot is better fitted to steer a ship, and a physi 
cian to treat an invalid, provided they be competent men 
in their respective professions, than many could bo, I should 
come at once to more illustrious examples. 

Lcelius. What examples do you mean ? 

Sci2)io. Do not you observe that it was the cruelty and 


pride of one single Tarquin o"nly that made the title of 
king unpopular among the Romans ? 

Lcelius. Yes, I acknowledge that. 

Scipio. You are also aware of this fact, on which I think 
I shall debate in the course of the coming discussion, that 
after the expulsion of King Tarquin, the people was trans 
ported by a wonderful excess of liberty. Then innocent 
men were driven into banishment; then the estates of many 
individuals were pillaged, consulships were made annual, 
public authorities were overawed by mobs, popular appeals 
took place in all cases imaginable; then secessions of the 
lower orders ensued, and, lastly, those proceedings which 
tended to place all powers in the hands of the populace. 

Lcelius. I must confess this is all too true. 

All these things now, said Scipio, happened during pe 
riods of peace and tranquillity, for license is wont to pre 
vail when there is little to fear, as in a calm voyage or a 
trifling disease. But as we observe the voyager and the 
invalid implore the aid of some one competent director, as 
soon as the sea grows stormy and the disease alarming, so 
our nation in peace and security commands, threatens, re 
sists, appeals from, and insults its magistrates, but in war 
obeys them as strictly as kings ; for public safety is, after 
all, rather more valuable than popular license. And in the 
most serious wars, our countrymen have even chosen the 
entire command to be deposited in the hands of some single 
chief, without a colleague; the very name of which magistrate 
indicates the absolute character of his power. For though 
he is evidently called dictator because he is appointed (dici- 
tur), yet do we still observe him, my Laelius, in our sacred 
books entitled Magister Populi (the master of the people). 

This is certainly the case, said Laelius. 

Our ancestors, therefore, said Scipio, acted wisely. 1 * * * 

XLI. When the people is deprived of a just king, as En- 
nius says, after the death of one of the best of monarchs, 

They hold his memory dear, and, in the warmth 
Of their discourse, they cry, O Romulus! 
O prince divine, sprung from the might of Mars 
To be thy country's guardian ! O our sire ! 
Be our protector still, O heaven-begot! 

1 Two pages are missing here. 


Not heroes, nor loi'ds alone, did they call those whom 
they lawfully obeyed; nor merely as kings did they pro 
claim them; but they pronounced them their country's 
guardians, their fathers, and their Gods. Nor, indeed, 
without cause, for they added, 

Thou, Prince, hast brought us to the gates of light. 

And truly they believed that life and honor and glory had 
arisen to them from the justice of their king. The same 
good-will would doubtless have remained in their descend 
ants, if the same virtues had been preserved on the throne ; 
but, as you see, by the injustice of one man the whole of 
that kind of constitution fell into ruin. 

I see it indeed, said Lselius, and I long to know the 
history of these political revolutions both in our own 
Commonwealth and in every other. 

XLII. And Scipio said: When I shall have explained 
my opinion respecting the form of government which I 
prefer, I shall be able to speak to you more accurately re 
specting the revolutions of states, though I think that such 
will not take place so easily in the mixed form of govern 
ment which I recommend. With respect, however, to ab 
solute monarchy, it presents an inherent and invincible 
tendency to revolution. No sooner does a king begin to 
be unjust than this entire form of government is demol 
ished, and he at once becomes a tyrant, which is the worst 
of all governments, and one very closely related to mon 
archy. If this State falls into the hands of the nobles, 
which is the usual course of events, it becomes an aris 
tocracy, or the second of the three kinds of constitutions 
which I have described; for it is, as it were, a royal that 
is to say, a paternal council of the chief men of the State 
consulting for the public benefit. Or if the people by it 
self has expelled or slain a tyrant, it is moderate in its 
conduct as long as it has sense and wisdom, and while it 
rejoices in its exploit, and applies itself to maintaining 
the constitution which it has established. But if ever the 
people has raised its forces against a just king and robbed 
him of his throne, or, as has frequently happened, has 
tasted the blood of its legitimate nobles, and subjected 
the whole Commonwealth to its own license, you can im- 


agine no flood or conflagration so terrible, or any whose 
violence is harder to appease than this unbridled insolence 
of the populace. 

XLIII. Then we see realized that which Plato so viv 
idly describes, if I can but express it in our language. It 
is by no means easy to do it justice in translation : how 
ever, I will try. 

When, says Plato, the insatiate jaws of the populace 
are fired with the thirst of liberty, and when the people, 
urged on by evil ministei's, drains in its thirst the cup, 
not of tempered liberty, but unmitigated license, then the 
magistrates and chiefs, if they are not utterly subservient 
and remiss, and shameless promoters of the popular licen 
tiousness, are pursued, incriminated, accused, and cried 
down under the title of despots and tyrants. I dare say 
you recollect the passage. 

Yes, said La3lius, it is familiar to me. 

Scipio. Plato thus proceeds: Then those who feel in 
duty bound to obey the chiefs of the State are persecuted 
by the insensate populace, who call them voluntary slaves. 
But those who, though invested with magistracies, wish 
to be considered on an equality with private individuals, 
and those private individuals who labor to abolish all dis 
tinctions between their own class and the magistrates, are 
extolled with acclamations and overwhelmed with honors, 
so that it inevitably happens in a commonwealth thus rev 
olutionized that liberalism abounds in all directions, due 
authority is found wanting even in private families, and 
misrule seems to extend even to the animals that witness 
it. Then the father fears the son, and the son neglects 
the father. All modesty is banished; they become far 
too liberal for that. No difference is made between the 
citizen and the alien; the master dreads and cajoles his 
scholars, and the scholars despise their masters. The 
young men assume the gravity of sages, and sages must 
stoop to the follies of children, lest they should be hated 
and oppressed by them. The very slaves even are under 
but little restraint; wives boast the same rights as their 
husbands ; dogs, horses, and asses are emancipated in this 
outrageous excess of freedom, and run about so violent 
ly that they frighten the passengers from the road. At 


length the termination of all this infinite licentiousness is, 
that the minds of the citizens become so fastidious and 
effeminate, that when they observe even the slightest ex 
ertion of authority they grow angry and seditious, and 
thus the laws begin to be neglected, so that the people are 
absolutely without any master at all. 

Then La^lius said: You have very accurately rendered 
the opinions which he expressed. 

XLIV. Sci2)io. Now, to return to the argument of my 
discourse. It appears that this extreme license, which is 
the only, liberty in the eyes of the vulgar, is, according to 
Plato, such that from it as a sort of root tyrants natural 
ly arise and spring up. For as the excessive power of an 
aristocracy occasions the destruction of the nobles, so this 
excessive liberalism of democracies brings after it the 
slavery of the people. Thus we find in the weather, the 
soil, and the animal constitution the most favorable con 
ditions are sometimes suddenly converted by their excess 
into the contrary, and this fact is especially observable 
in political governments ; and this excessive liberty soon 
brings the people collectively and individually to an ex 
cessive servitude. For, as I said, this extreme liberty easi 
ly introduces the reign of tyranny, the severest of all un 
just slaveries. In fact, from the midst of this unbridled 
and capricious populace, they elect some one as a leader 
in opposition to their afflicted and expelled nobles : some 
new chief, forsooth, audacious and impure, often insolent 
ly persecuting those who have deserved well of the State, 
and ready to gratify the populace at his neighbor's ex 
pense as well as his own. Then, since the private condi 
tion is naturally exposed to fears and alarms, the people 
invest him with many powers, and these are continued in 
his hands. Such men, like Pisistratus of Athens, will 
soon find an excuse for surrounding themselves with 
body-guards, and they will conclude by becoming tyrants 
over the very persons who raised them to dignity. If 
such despots perish by the vengeance of the better citi 
zens, as is generally the case, the constitution is re-estab 
lished; but if they fall by the hands of bold insurgents, 
then the same faction succeeds them, which is only anoth 
er species of tyranny. And the same revolution arises 



from the fair system of aristocracy when any corruption 
has betrayed the nobles from the path of rectitude. Thus 
the power is like the ball which is flung from hand to 
hand : it passes from kings to tyrants, from tyrants to the 
aristocracy, from them to democracy, and from these back 
again to tyrants and to factions ; and thus the same kind 
of government is seldom long maintained. 

XLV. Since these are the facts of experience, royalty 
is, in my opinion, very far preferable to the three other 
kinds of political constitutions. But it is itself inferior 
to that which is composed of an equal mixture of the three 
best forms of government, united and modified by one an 
other. I wish to establish in a commonwealth a royal and 
pre-eminent chief. Another portion of power should be 
deposited in the hands of the aristocracy, and certain 
things should be reserved to the judgment and wish of 
the multitude. This constitution, in the first place, pos 
sesses that great equality without which men cannot long 
maintain their freedom ; secondly, it offers a great stabili 
ty, while the particular separate and isolated forms easily 
fall into their contraries ; so that a king is succeeded by a 
despot, an aristocracy by a faction, a democracy by a mob 
and confusion ; and all these forms are frequently sacri 
ficed to new revolutions. In this united and mixed consti 
tution, however, similar disasters cannot happen without 
the greatest vices in public men. For there can be little 
to occasion revolution in a state in which every person is 
firmly established in his appropriate rank, and there arc 
but few modes of corruption into which we can fall. 

XL VI. But I fear, Lffilius, and you, my amiable and 
learned friends, that if I were to dwell any longer on this 
argument, my words would seem rather like the lessons of 
a master, and not like the free conversation of one who is 
uniting with you in the consideration of truth. I shall 
therefore pass on to those things which are familiar to all, 
and which I have long studied. And in these matters I 
believe, I feel, and I affirm that of all governments there 
is none which, either in its entire constitution or the dis 
tribution of its parts, or in the discipline of its manners, 
is comparable to that which our fathers received from our 
earliest ancestors, and which they have handed down to 


us. And since you wish to hear from me a development 
of this constitution, with which you are all acquainted, I 
shall endeavor to explain its true character and excellence. 
Thus keeping rny eye fixed on the model of our Roman 
Commonwealth, I shall endeavor to accommodate to it all 
that I have to say on the best form of government. And 
by treating the subject in this way, I think I shall be able 
to accomplish most satisfactorily the task which Lselius 
has imposed on me. 

XL VII. Lcelius. It is a task most properly and pecul 
iarly your own, my Scipio ; for who can speak so well as 
you either on the subject of the institutions of our ances 
tors, since you yourself are descended from most illustri 
ous ancestors, or on that of the best form of a constitution 
which, if we possess (though at this moment we do not, 
still), when we do possess such a thing, who will be more 
flourishing in it than you? or on that of providing coun 
sels for the future, as you, who, by dispelling two mighty 
perils from our city, have provided for its safety forever? 


XL VIII. As our country is the source of the greatest 
benefits, and is a parent dearer than those who have given 
us life, we owe her still warmer gratitude than belongs to 
our human relations. * * * 

Nor would Carthage have continued to flourish during 
six centuries without wisdom and good institutions. * * * 

In truth, says Cicero, although the reasonings of those 
men may contain most abundant fountains of science and 
virtue ; still, if we compare them with the achievements 
and complete actions of statesmen, they will seem not to 
have been of so much service in the actual business of men 
as of amusement for their leisure. 




IN this second book of his Commonwealth, Cicero gives us a spirited 
and eloquent review of the history and successive developments of 
the Roman constitution. He bestows the warmest praises on its early 
kings, points out the great advantages which had resulted from its 
primitive monarchical system, and explains how that system had been 
gradually broken up. In order to prove the importance of reviving 
it, he gives a glowing picture of the evils and disasters that had be 
fallen the Roman State in consequence of that overcharge of demo 
cratic folly and violence which had gradually gained an alarming pre 
ponderance, and describes, with a kind of prophetic sagacity, the fruit 
of his political experience, the subsequent revolutions of the Roman 
State, which such a state of things would necessarily bring about. 


I. [WHEN, therefore, he observed all his friends kindled 
with the de]sire of hearing him, Scipio thus opened the 
discussion. I will commence, said Scipio, with a senti 
ment of old Cato, whom, as you know, I singularly loved 
and exceedingly admired, and to whom, in compliance with 
the judgment of both my parents, and also by my own de 
sire, I was entirely devoted during my youth ; of whose 
discourse, indeed, I could never have enough, so much 
experience did he possess as a statesman respecting the 
republic which he had so long governed, both in peace 
and war, with so much success. There was also an ad 
mirable propriety in his style of conversation, in which 
wit was tempered with gravity; a wonderful aptitude for 
acquiring, and at the same time communicating, informa 
tion ; and his life was in perfect correspondence and uni 
son with his language. He used to say that the govern 
ment of Rome was superior to that of other states for this 
reason, because in nearly all of them there had been single 
individuals, each of whom had regulated their common- 


wealth according to their own laws and their own ordi 
nances. So Minos had done in Crete, and Lycurgus in 
Sparta; and in Athens, which experienced so many rev 
olutions, first Theseus, then Draco, then Solon, then Clis- 
thenes, afterward many others; and, lastly, when it was 
almost lifeless and quite prostrate, that great and wise 
man, Demetrius Phalereus, supported it. But our Ro 
man constitution, on the contrary, did not spring from the 
genius of one individual, but from that of many ; and it 
was established, not in the lifetime of one man, but in the 
course of several ages and centuries. For, added he, there 
never yet existed any genius so vast and comprehensive as 
to allow nothing at any time to escape its attention ; and 
all the geniuses iu the world united in a single mind could 
never, within the limits of a single life, exert a foresight 
sufficiently extensive to embrace and harmonize all, with 
out the aid of experience and practice. 

Thus, according to Cato's usual habit, I now ascend in 
my discourse to the " origin of the people," for I like to 
adopt the expression of Cato. I shall also more easily ex 
ecute my proposed task if I thus exhibit to you our polit 
ical constitution in its infancy, progress, and maturity, now 
so firm and fully established, than if, after the example of 
Socrates in the books of Plato, I were to delineate a mere 
imaginary republic. 

II. When all had signified their approbation, Scipio re 
sumed: What commencement of a political constitution 
can we conceive more brilliant, or more universally known, 
than the foundation of Rome by the hand of Romulus? 
And he was the son of Mars: for we may grant this much 
to the common report existing among men, especially as 
it is not merely ancient, but one also which has been wise 
ly maintained by our ancestors, in order that those who 
have done great service to communities may enjoy the 
reputation of having received from the Gods, not only 
their genius, but their very birth. 

It is related, then, that soon after the birth of Romulus 
and his brother Remus, Amnlius, King of Alba, fearing 
that they might one day undermine his authority, ordered 
that they should be exposed on the banks of the Tiber; 
and that in this situation the infant Romulus was suckled 


by a wild beast; that he was afterward educated by the 
shepherds, and brought up in the rough way of living and 
labors of the countrymen ; and that he acquired, when he 
grow up, such superiority over the rest by the vigor of his 
body and the courage of his soul, that all the people who 
at that time inhabited the plains in the midst of which 
Rome now stands, tranquilly and willingly submitted to 
his government. And when he had made himself the 
chief of those bands, to come from fables to facts, he took 
Alba Longa, a powerful and strong city at that time, and 
slew its king, Amulius. 

III. Having acquired this glory, he conceived the design 
(as they tell us) of founding a new city and establishing a 
new state. As respected the site of his new city, a point 
which requires the greatest foresight in him who would 
lay the foundation of a durable commonwealth, he chose 
the most convenient possible position. For he did not ad 
vance too near the sea, which he might easily have done 
with the forces under his command, either by entering the 
territory of the Kutuli and Aborigines, or by founding his 
citadel at the mouth ot the Tiber, where many years after 
Ancus Martins established a colony. But Romulus, with 
admirable genius and foresight, observed and perceived 
that sites very near the sea are not the most favorable 
positions for cities which would attain a durable prosperi 
ty and dominion. And this, first, because maritime cities 
are always exposed, not only to many attacks, but to per 
ils they cannot provide against. For the continued land 
gives notice, by many indications, not only of any regular 
approaches, but also of any sudden surprises of an ene 
my, and announces them beforehand by the mere sound. 
There is no adversary who, on an inland territory, can ar 
rive so swiftly as to prevent our knowing not only his ex 
istence, but his character too, and where he comes from. 
But a maritime and naval enemy can fall upon a town 
on the sea-coast befoi'e any one suspects that he is about 
to come ; and when he does come, nothing exterior indi 
cates who he is, or whence he comes, or what he wishes ; 
nor can it even be determined and distinguished on all oc 
casions whether he is a friend or a foe. 

IV. But maritime cities are likewise naturally exposed 


to corrupt influences, and revolutions of manners. Their 
civilization is more or less adulterated by new languages 
and customs, and they import not only foreign merchan 
dise, but foreign fashions, to such a degree that nothing 
can continue unalloyed in the national institutions. Those 
who inhabit these maritime towns do not remain in their 
native place, but are urged afar from their homes by 
winged hope and speculation. And even when they do 
not desert their countiy in person, still their minds are al 
ways expatiating and voyaging round the world. 

Nor, indeed, was there any cause which more deeply 
undermined Corinth and Carthage, and at last overthrew 
them both, than this wandering and dispersion of their 
citizens, whom the passion of commerce and navigation 
had induced to abandon the cultivation of their lands and 
their attention to military pursuits. 

The proximity of the sea likewise administers to mari 
time cities a multitude of pernicious incentives to luxury, 
which are either acquired by victory or imported by com 
merce ; and the very agreeableness of their position nour 
ishes many expensive and deceitful gratifications of the 
passions. And what I have spoken of Corinth may be 
applied, for aught I know, without incorrectness to the 
whole of Greece. For the Peloponnesus itself is almost 
wholly on the sea-coast ; nor, besides the Phliasians, are 
there any whose lands do not touch the sea ; and beyond 
the Peloponnesus, the ^Enianes, the Dorians, and the Dol- 
opes are the only inland people. Why should I speak of 
the Grecian islands, which, girded by the waves, seem all 
afloat, as it were, together with the institutions and man 
ners of their cities ? And these things, I have before no 
ticed, do not respect ancient Greece only ; for which of all 
those colonies which have been led from Greece into Asia, 
Thracia, Italy, Sicily, and Africa, with the single exception 
of Magnesia, is there that is not washed by the sea? Thus 
it seems as if a sort of Grecian coast had been annexed to 
territories of the barbarians. For among the barbarians 
themselves none were heretofore a maritime people, if we 
except the Carthaginians and Etruscans ; one for the sake 
of commerce, the other of pillage. And this is one evi 
dent reason of the calamities and revolutions of Greece, 


because she became infected with the vices which belong 
to maritime cities, which I just now briefly enumerated. 
But yet, notwithstanding these vices, they have one great 
advantage, and one which is of universal application, 
namely, that there is a great facility for new inhabitants 
flocking to them. And, again, that the inhabitants are en 
abled to export and send abroad the produce of their na 
tive lands to any nation they please, which offers them a 
market for their goods. 

V. By what divine wisdom, then, could Romulus em 
brace all the benefits that could belong to maritime cities, 
and at the same time avoid the dangers to which they are 
exposed, except, as he did, by building his city on the 
bank of an inexhaustible river, whose equal current dis 
charges itself into the sea by a vast mouth, so that the 
city could receive all it wanted from the sea, and discharge 
its superabundant commodities by the same channel ? And 
in the same river a communication is found by which it 
not only receives from the sea all the productions neces 
sary to the conveniences and elegances of life, but those 
also which are brought from the inland districts. So that 
Romulus seems to me to have divined and anticipated 
that this city would one day become the centre and abode 
of a powerful and opulent empire; for there is no other 
part of Italy in which a city could be situated so as to be 
able to maintain so wide a dominion with so much ease. 

VI. As to the natural fortifications of Rome, who is so 
negligent and unobservant as not to have them depicted 
and deeply stamped on his memory? Such is the plan 
and direction of the walls, which, by the prudence of 
Romulus and his royal successors, are bounded on all 
sides by steep and rugged hills ; and the only aperture 
between the Esquiline and Quirinal mountains is enclosed 
by a formidable rampart, and surrounded by an immense 
fosse. And as for our fortified citadel, it is so secured by 
a precipitous barrier and enclosure of rocks, that, even in 
that horrible attack and invasion of the Gauls, it remained 
impregnable and inviolable. Moreover, the site which he 
selected had also an abundance of fountains, and was 
healthy, though it was in the midst of a pestilential re 
gion ; for there are hills which at once create a current 


of fresh air, and fling an agreeable shade over the val 

VII. These things he effected with wonderful rapidity, 
and thus established the city, which, from his own name 
Romulus, he determined to call Rome. And in order to 
strengthen his new city, he conceived a design, singular 
enough, and even a little rude, yet worthy of a great man, 
and of a genius which discerned far away in futurity the 
means of strengthening his power and his people. The 
young Sabine females of honorable birth who had come to 
Rome, attracted by the public games and spectacles which 
Romulus then, for the first time, established as annual 
games in the circus, were suddenly carried off at the feast 
of Consus 1 by his orders, and were given in marriage to 
the men of the noblest families in Rome. And when, on 
this account, the Sabines had declared war against Rome, 
the issue of the battle being doubtful and undecided, 
Romulus made an alliance with Tatius, King of the Sa 
bines, at the intercession of the matrons themselves who 
had been carried off. By this compact he admitted the 
Sabines into the city, gave them a participation in the re 
ligious ceremonies, and divided his power with their king. 

VIII. But after the death of Tatius, the entire govern 
ment was again vested in the hands of Romulus, although, 
besides making Tatius his own partner, he had also elected 
some of the chiefs of the Sabines into the royal council, 
who on account of their affectionate regard for the people 
were called patres, or fathers. He also divided the people 
into three tribes, called after the name of Tatius, and his 
own name, and that of Locumo, who had fallen as his ally 
in the Sabine war ; and also into thirty curias, designated 
by the names of those Sabine virgins, who, after being 
carried off at the festivals, generously offered themselves 
as the mediators of peace and coalition. 

But though these orders were established in the life of 
Tatius, yet, after his death, Romulus reigned with still 
greater power by the counsel and authority of the senate. 

IX. In this respect he approved and adopted the prin 
ciple which Lycurgus but little before had applied to the 
government of LacedoMnon ; namely, that the monarchical 

1 A name of Neptune. 


authority and the royal power operate best in the govern' 
ment of states when to this supreme authority is joined 
the influence of the noblest of the citizens. 

Therefore, thus supported, and, as it were, propped up 
by this council or senate, Romulus conducted many wars 
with the neighboring nations in a most successful manner ; 
and while he refused to take any portion of the booty to 
his own palace, he did not cease to enrich the citizens. 
He also cherished the greatest respect for that institution 
of hierarchical and ecclesiastical ordinances which we still 
retain to the great benefit of the Commonwealth ; for in 
the very commencement of his government he founded 
the city with religious rites, and in the institution of all 
public establishments he was equally careful in attending 
to these sacred ceremonials, and associated with himself 
on these occasions priests that were selected from each of 
the tribes. He also enacted that the nobles should act as 
patrons and protectors to the inferior citizens, their natu 
ral clients and dependants, in their respective districts, a 
measure the utility of which I shall afterward notice. 
The judicial punishments were mostly fines of sheep and 
oxen ; for the property of the people at that time consist 
ed in their fields and cattle, and this circumstance has 
given rise to the expressions which still designate real 
and personal wealth. Thus the people were kept in order 
rather by mulctations than by bodily inflictions. 

X. After Romulus had thus reigned thirty-seven years, 
and established these two great supports of government, 
the hierarchy and the senate, having disappeared in a sud 
den eclipse of the sun, he was thought worthy of being 
added to the number of the Gods an honor which no 
mortal man ever was able to attain to but by a glorious 
pre-eminence of virtue. And this circumstance was the 
more to be admired in the case of Romulus because most 
of the great men that have been deified were so exalted 
to celestial dignities by the people, in periods very little 
enlightened, when fiction was easy and ignorance went 
hand-in-hand with credulity. But with respect to Romu 
lus, we know that he lived less than six centuries ago, at 
a time when science and literature were already advanced, 
and had got rid of many of the ancient errors that had 


prevailed among less civilized peoples. For if, as we con 
sider proved by the Grecian annals, Rome was founded in 
the seventh Olympiad, the life of Romulus was contem 
porary with that period in which Greece already abound 
ed in poets and musicians an age when fables, except 
those concerning ancient matters, received little credit. 

For, one hundred and eight years after the promulga 
tion of the laws of Lycurgus, the first Olympiad was es 
tablished, which indeed, through a mistake of names, some 
authors have supposed constituted by Lycurgus likewise. 
And Homer himself, according to the best computation, 
lived about thirty years before the time of Lycurgus. We 
must conclude, therefore, that Homer flourished very many 
years before the date of Romulus. So that, as men had 
now become learned, and as the times themselves were not 
destitute of knowledge, there was not much room left for 
the success of mere fictions. Antiquity indeed has received 
fables that have at times been sufficiently improbable : but 
this epoch, which was already so cultivated, disdaining 
every fiction that was impossible, rejected 1 * * * We may 
therefore, perhaps, attach some credit to this story of Rorn- 
ulus's immortality, since human life was at that time ex 
perienced, cultivated, and instructed. And doubtless there 
was in him such energy of genius and virtue that it is not 
altogether impossible to believe the report of Proculus Ju 
lius, the husbandman, of that glorification having befallen 
Romulus which for many ages AVC have denied to less il 
lustrious men. At all events, Proculus is reported to have 
stated in the council, at the instigation of the senators, who 
wished to free themselves from all suspicion of having 
been accessaries to the death of Romulus, that he had 
seen him on that hill which is now called the Quirinal, 
and that he had commanded him to inform the people 
that they should build him a temple on that same hill, and 
offer him sacrifices under the name of Quirinus. 

XI. You see, therefore, that the genius of this great 
man did not merely establish the constitution of a new 
people, and then leave them, as it were, crying in their 
cradle; but he still continued to superintend their educa- 

1 About seven lines nre lost here, and there is n. great deal of corrup 
tion and imperfection in the next few sentences. 


lion till they had arrived at an adult and wellnigh a ma 
ture age. 

Then Lalius said : "VVe now see, my Scipio, what you 
meant when you said that you would adopt a new method 
of discussing the science of government, different from 
any found in the writings of the Greeks. For that prime 
master of philosophy, whom none ever surpassed in elo 
quence, I mean Plato, chose an open plain on which to 
build an imaginary city after his own taste a city ad 
mirably conceived, as none can deny, but remote enough 
from the real life and manners of men. Others, without 
proposing to themselves any model or type of government 
whatever, have argued on the constitutions and forms of 
states. You, on the contrary, appear to be about to unite 
these two methods ; for, as far as you have gone, you seem 
to prefer attributing to others your discoveries, rather than 
start new theories under your own name and authority, 
as Socrates has done in the writings of Plato. Thus, in 
speaking of the site of Rome, you refer to a systematic 
policy, to the acts of Romulus, which were many of them 
the result of necessity or chance ; and you do not allow 
your discourse to run riot over many states, but you fix 
and concentrate it on our own Commonwealth. Proceed, 
then, in the course you have adopted ; for I see that you 
intend to examine our other kings, in your pursuit of a 
perfect republic, as it were. 

XII. Therefore, said Scipio, when that senate of Romu 
lus which was composed of the nobles, whom the king him 
self respected so highly that he designated them patres, or 
fathers, and their children patricians, attempted after the 
death of Romulus to conduct the government without a 
king, the people would not suffer it, but, amidst their re 
gret for Romulus, desisted not from demanding a fresh 
monarch. The nobles then prudently resolved to estab 
lish an interregnum a new political form, unknown to oth 
er nations. It was not without its use, however, since, dur 
ing the interval which elapsed before the definitive nom 
ination of the new king, the State was not left without a 
ruler, nor subjected too long to the same governor, nor 
exposed to the fear lest some one, in consequence of the 
prolonged enjoyment of power, should become more nn- 


willing to lay it aside, or more powerful if lie wished to 
secure it permanently for himself. At which time this 
new nation discovered a political provision which had es 
caped the Spartan Lycurgns, who conceived that the mon 
arch ought not to be elective if indeed it is true that this 
depended on Lycurgus but that it was better for the 
Lacedemonians to acknowledge as their sovereign the next 
heir of the race of Hercules, whoever he might be : but our 
Romans, rude as they were, saw the importance of appoint 
ing a king, not for his family, but for his virtue and ex 

XIII. And fame having recognized these eminent qual 
ities in Nurna Pornpilius, the Roman people, without par 
tiality for their own citizens, committed itself, by the coun 
sel of the senators, to a king of foreign origin, and sum 
moned this Sabine from the city of Cures to Rome, that 
he might reign over them. Numa, although the people 
had proclaimed him king in their Comitia Curiata, did 
nevertheless himself pass a Lex Curiata respecting his 
own authority; and observing that the institutions of 
Romulus had too much excited the military propensities 
of the people, he judged it expedient to recall them from 
this habit of warfare by other employments. 

XIV. And, in the first place, he divided severally among 
the citizens the lands which Romulus had conquered, and 
taught them that even without the aid of pillage and dev 
astation they could, by the cultivation of their own terri 
tories, procure themselves all kinds of commodities. And 
he inspired them with the love of peace and tranquillity, 
in which faith and justice are likeliest to flourish, and ex 
tended the most powerful protection to the people in the 
cultivation of their fields and the enjoyment of their prod 
uce. Pompilius likewise having created hierarchical insti 
tutions of the highest class, added two augurs to the old 
number. He intrusted the superintendence of the sacred 
rites to five pontiffs, selected from the body of the nobles; 
and by those laws which we still preserve on our monu 
ments he mitigated, by religious ceremonials, the minds 
that had been too long inflamed by military enthusiasm 
and enterprise. 

He also established the Flamines and the Salian priests 


and the Vestal Virgins, and regulated all departments of 
our ecclesiastical policy with the most pious care. Iti the 
ordinance of sacrifices, he wished that the ceremonial should 
be very arduous and the expenditure very light. He thus 
appointed many observances, whose knowledge is extreme 
ly important, and whose expense far from burdensome. 
Thus in religious worship he added devotion and removed 
costliness. He was also the first to introduce markets, 
games, and the other usual methods of assembling and 
uniting men. By these establishments, he inclined to be 
nevolence and amiability spirits whom the passion for war 
had rendered savage and ferocious. Having thus reigned 
in the greatest peace and concord thirty-nine years for in 
dates we mainly follow our Polybius, than whom no one 
ever gave more attention to the investigation of the his 
tory of the times he departed this life, having corrobo 
rated the two grand principles of political stability, relig 
ion and clemency. 

XV. When Scipio had concluded these remarks, Is it 
not, said Manilius, a true tradition which is current, that 
our king Numa was a disciple of Pythagoras himself, or 
that at least he was a Pythagorean in his doctrines ? For 
I have often heard this from my elders, and we know that 
it is the popular opinion ; but it does not seem to be clear 
ly proved by the testimony of our public annals. 

Then Scipio replied : The supposition is false, my Ma 
nilius ; it is not merely a fiction, but a ridiculous and bun 
gling one too ; and we should not tolerate those statements, 
even in fiction, relating to facts which not only did not hap 
pen, but which never could have happened. For it was 
not till the fourth year of the reign of Tarquinius Super- 
bus that Pythagoras is ascertained to have come to Syba- 
ris, Crotona, and this part of Italy. And the sixty-second 
Olympiad is the common date of the elevation of Tarquin 
to the throne, and of the arrival of Pythagoras. From 
which it appears, when we calculate the duration of the 
reigns of the kings, that about one hundred and forty 
years must have elapsed after the death of Numa before 
Pythagoras first arrived in Italy. And this fact, in the 
minds of men who have carefully studied the annals of 
time, has never been at all doubted. 


O ye immortal Gods ! said Manilius, how deep and how 
inveterate is this error in the minds of men ! However, 
it costs me no effort to concede that our Roman sciences 
were not imported from beyond the seas, bnt that they 
sprung from our own indigenous and domestic virtues. 

XVI. You will become still more convinced of this fact, 
said African us, when tracing the progress of our Common 
wealth as it became gradually developed to its best and 
maturest condition. And you will find yet further occa 
sion to admire the wisdom of our ancestors on this very 
account, since you will perceive that even those things 
which they borrowed from foreigners received a much 
higher improvement among us than they possessed in the 
countries from whence they were imported among us ; and 
you will learn that the Roman people was aggrandized, not 
by chance or hazard, but rather by counsel and discipline, 
to which fortune indeed was by no means unfavorable. 

XVII. After the death of King Pompilius, the people, 
after a short period of interregnum, chose Tullus Hostilius 
for their king, in the Comitia Curiata; and Tullus, after 
Numa's example, consulted the people in their curias to 
procure a sanction for his government. His excellence 
chiefly appeared in his military glory and great achieve 
ments in war. He likewise, out of his military spoils, con 
structed and decorated the House of Comitia and the Sen 
ate-house. He also settled the ceremonies of the procla 
mation of hostilities, and consecrated their righteous insti 
tution by the religious sanction of the Fetial priests, so 
that every war which was not duly announced and de 
clared might be adjudged illegal, unjust, and impious. 
And observe how wisely our kings at that time perceived 
that certain rights ought to be allowed to the people, of 
which we shall have a good deal to say hereafter. Tullus 
did not even assume the ensigns of royalty without the 
approbation of the people ; and when he appointed twelve 
lictors, with their axes to go before him 1 * * * 

XVIII. * * * [Manilius.] This Commonwealth of Rome, 
which you are so eloquently describing, did not creep tow 
ards perfection ; it rather flew at once to the maturity of 
its grandeur. 

1 Two pages are lost here. 


[Scipio.] After Tullus, Ancus Martins, a descendant of 
Numa by his daughter, was appointed king by the people. 
He also procured the passing of a law 1 through the Comi- 
tia Curiata respecting his government. This king having 
conquered the Latins, admitted them to the rights of citi 
zens of Rome. He added to the city the Aventine and 
Ca3lian hills; he distributed the lands he had taken in 
war ; he bestowed on the public all the maritime forests 
he had acquired ; and he built the city Ostia, at the mouth 
of the Tiber, and colonized it. When he had thus reigned 
twenty-three years, he died. 

Then said Laslius: Doubtless this king deserves our 
praises, but the Roman history is obscure. We possess, 
indeed, the name of this monarch's mother, but we know 
nothing of his father. 

It is so, said Scipio ; but in those ages little more than 
the names of the kings were recorded. 

XIX. For the first time at this period, Rome appears 
to have become more learned by the study of foreign lit 
erature ; for it was no longer a little rivulet, flowing from 
Greece towards the walls of our city, but an overflowing 
river of Grecian sciences and arts. This is generally at 
tributed to Demaratus, a Corinthian, the first man of his 
country in reputation, honor, and wealth ; who, not being 
able to bear the despotism of Cypselus, tyrant of Corinth, 
fled with large treasures, and arrived at Tarquinii, the most 
flourishing city in Etruria. There, understanding that the 
domination of Cypselus was thoroughly established, he, 
like a free and bold-hearted man, renounced his country, 
and was admitted into the number of the citizens of Tar 
quinii, and fixed his residence in that city. And having 
married a woman of the city, he instructed his two sons, 
according to the method of Greek education, in all kinds 
of sciences and arts. 1 * * * 

XX. * * * [One of these sons] was easily admitted to 

1 The Lex Curiata de Imperio, so often mentioned here, was the same 
as the Auctoritas Patrum, and was necessary in order to confer upon the 
dictator, consuls, and other magistrates the imperium, or military com 
mand : without this they had only a potestas, or civil authority, and 
could not meddle with military affairs. 

3 Two pages are missing here. 


the rights of citizenship at Rome ; and on account of his 
accomplished manners and learning, he became a favorite 
of our king Ancus to such a degree that he was a partner 
in all his counsels, and was looked upon almost as his as 
sociate in the government. He, besides, possessed won 
derful affability, and was very kind in assistance, support, 
protection, and even gifts of money, to the citizens. 

When, therefore, Ancus died, the people by their unani 
mous suffrages chose for their king this Lucius Tarquinius 
(for he had thus transformed the Greek name of his fam 
ily, that he might seem in all respects to imitate the cus 
toms of his adopted countrymen). And when he, too, had 
procured the passing of a law respecting his authority, he 
commenced his reign by doubling the original number of 
the senators. The ancient senators he called patricians of 
the major families (patres majorum gentium), and he ask 
ed their votes first ; and those new senators whom he him 
self had added, he entitled patricians of minor families. 
After this, he established the order of knights, on the plan 
which we maintain to this day. He would not, however, 
change the denomination of the Tatian, Rhamnensian, and 
Lucerian orders, though he wished to do so, because Attus 
Naevius, an augur of the highest reputation, would not 
sanction it. And, indeed, I am aware that the Corinthi 
ans were remarkably attentive to provide for the mainte 
nance and good condition of their cavalry by taxes levied 
on the inheritance of widows and orphans. To the first 
equestrian orders Lucius also added new ones, composing 
a body of three hundred knights. And this number he 
doubled, after having conquered the ^Equicoli, a large and 
ferocious people, and dangerous enemies of the Roman 
State. Having likewise repulsed from our walls an inva 
sion of the Sabines, he routed them by the aid of his cav 
alry, and subdued them. He also was the first person 
who instituted the grand games which are now called the 
Roman Games. He fulfilled his vow to build a temple to 
the all-good and all-powerful Jupiter in the Capitol a vow 
which he made during a battle in the Sabine war and 
died after a reign of thirty-eight years. 

XXI. Then Lajlius said : All that you have been relat 
ing corroborates the saying of Cato, that the constitution 



of the Roman Commonwealth is not the work of one man, 
or one age ; for we can clearly see what a great progress 
in excellent and useful institutions was continued under 
each successive king. But we are now arrived at the 
reign of a monarch who appears to me to have been of all 
our kings he who had the greatest foresight in matters of 
political government. 

So it appears to me, said Scipio ; for after Tarquinius 
Priscus comes Servius Sulpicius, who was the first who is 
reported to have reigned without an order from the peo 
ple. He is supposed to have been the son of a female 
slave at Tarquinii, by one of the soldiers or clients of 
King Priscus ; and as he was educated among the servants 
of this prince, and waiting on him at table, the king soon 
observed the fire of his genius, Avhich shone forth even 
from his childhood, so skilful was he in all his words and 
actions. Therefore,Tarquin, whose own children were then 
very young, so loved Servius that he was very commonly 
believed to be his own son, and he instructed him with 
the greatest care in all the sciences with which he was 
acquainted, according to the most exact discipline of the 

But when Tarquin had perished by the plots of the sons 
of Ancus, and Servius (as I have said) had begun to reign, 
not by the order, but yet with the good-will and consent, 
of the citizens because, as it was falsely reported that 
Priscus was recovering from his wounds, Servius, arrayed 
in the royal robes, delivered judgment, freed the debtors 
at his own expense, and, exhibiting the greatest affability, 
announced that he delivered judgment at the command of 
Priscus he did not commit himself to the senate; but, 
after Priscus was buried, he consulted the people respect 
ing his authority, and, being authorized by them to as 
sume the dominion, he procured a law to be passed through 
the Comitia Curiata, confirming his government. 

He then, in the first place, avenged the injuries of the 
Etruscans by arms. After which 1 * * * 

XXII. * * * he enrolled eighteen centuries of knights 
of the first order. Afterward, having created a great 
number of knights from the common mass of the people, 
1 Here two pages are missing. 


he divided the rest of the people into five classes, distin 
guishing between the seniors and the juniors. These he 
so constituted as to place the suffrages, not in the hands 
of the multitude, but in the power of the men of property. 
And he took care to make it a rule of ours, as it ought to 
be in every government, that the greatest number should 
not have the greatest weight. You are well acquainted 
with this institution, otherwise I would explain it to you ; 
but you are familiar with the whole system, and know 
how the centuries of knights, with six suffrages, and the 
first class, comprising eighty centuries, besides one other 
century which was allotted to the artificers, on account of 
their utility to the State, produce eighty-nine centuries. 
If to these there are added twelve centuries for that is 
the number of the centuries of the knights which remain 1 
the entire force of the State is summed up; and the 
arrangement is such that the remaining and far more nu 
merous multitude, which is distributed through the nine 
ty-six last centuries, is not deprived of a right of suffrage, 
which would be an arrogant measure ; nor, on the other 
hand, permitted to exert too great a preponderance in the 
government, which would be dangerous. 

In this arrangement, Servius was very cautious in his 
choice of terms and denominations. He called the rich 
assidui, because they afforded pecuniary succor 8 to the 
State. As to those whose fortune did not exceed 1500 
pence, or those who had nothing but their labor, he called 
them proletarii classes, as if the State should expect from 
them a hardy progeny 3 and population. 

Even a single one of the ninety-six last centuries con 
tained numerically more citizens than the entire first class. 
Thus, no one was excluded from his right of voting, yet 
the preponderance of votes was secured to those who had 
the deepest stake in the welfare of the State. Moreover, 
with reference to the accensi, velati, trumpeters, horn- 
blowers, proletarii* * * * 

XXIII. * * * That that republic is arranged in the best 
manner which, being composed in due proportions of those 

1 I have translated this very corrupt passage according to Niebuhr's 
emendation. 2 Assiduus, ab a?re dando. 

3 Proletarii, a prole. * Here four pages are missing. 


three elements, the monarchical, the aristocratical, and the 
democratic, does not by punishment irritate a fierce and 
savage mind. * * * [A similar institution prevailed at 
Carthage], which was sixty-five years more ancient than 
Rome, since it was founded thirty-nine years before the 
first Olympiad ; and that most ancient law-giver Lycurgus 
made nearly the same arrangements. Thus the system of 
regular subordination, and this mixture of the three prin 
cipal forms of government, appear to me common alike to 
us and them. But there is a peculiar advantage in our 
Commonwealth, than which nothing can be more excellent, 
which I shall endeavor to describe as accurately as possi 
ble, because it is of such a character that nothing analo 
gous can be discovered in ancient states ; for these politi 
cal elements which I have noticed were so united in the 
constitutions of Rome, of Sparta, and of Carthage, that 
they were not counterbalanced by any modifying power. 
For in a state in which one man is invested with a per 
petual domination, especially of the monarchical character, 
although there be a senate in it, as there was in Rome un 
der the kings, and in Sparta, by the laws of Lycurgus, or 
even where the people exercise a sort of jurisdiction, as 
they used in the days of our monarchy, the title of king 
must still be pre-eminent ; nor can such a state avoid be 
ing, and being called, a kingdom. And this kind of gov 
ernment is especially subject to frequent revolutions, be 
cause the fault of a single individual is sufficient to pre 
cipitate it into the most pernicious disasters. 

In itself, however, royalty is not only not a reprehensi 
ble form of government, but I do not know whether it 
is not far preferable to all other simple constitutions, if I 
approved of any simple constitution whatever. But this 
preference applies to royalty so long only as it maintains 
its appropriate character; and this character provides that 
one individual's perpetual power, and justice, and univer 
sal wisdom should regulate the safety, equality, and tran 
quillity of the whole people. But many privileges must 
be wanting to communities that live under a king; and, 
in the first place, liberty, which does not consist in slavery 
to a just master, but in slavery to no master at all 1 * * * 
1 Two pages are missing here. 


XXIV. * * * [Let us now pass on to the reign of the 
seventh and last king of Rome, Tnrqninius Superbus.] 
And even this unjust and cruel master had good fortune 
for his companion for some time, in all his enterprises. 
For he subdued all Latium ; he captured Suessa Pometia, 
a powerful and wealthy city, and, becoming possessed of 
an immense spoil of gold and silver, he accomplished his 
father's vow by the building of the Capitol. He estab 
lished colonies, and, faithful to the institutions of those 
from whom he sprung, he sent magnificent presents, as 
tokens of gratitude for his victories, to Apollo at Delphi. 

XXV. Here begins the revolution of our political sys 
tem of government, and I must beg your attention to its 
natural course and progression. For the grand point of 
political science, the object of our discourses, is to know 
the march and the deviations of governments, that when 
we are acquainted with the particular courses and inclina 
tions of constitutions, we may be able to restrain them 
from their fatal tendencies, or to oppose adequate obstacles 
to their decline and fall. 

For this Tarquinius Superbus, of whom I am speaking, 
being first of all stained with the blood of his admirable 
predecessor on the throne, could not be a man of sound 
conscience and mind; and as he feared himself the se 
verest punishment for his enormous crime, he sought his 
protection in making himself feared. Then, in the glory 
of his victories and his treasures, he exulted in insolent 
pride, and could neither regulate his own manners nor the 
passions of the members of his family. 

When, therefore, his eldest son had offered violence to 
Lucretia, daughter of Tricipitinus and wife of Collatinus, 
and this chaste and noble lady had stabbed herself to death 
on account of the injury she could not survive then a 
man eminent for his genius and virtue, Lucius Brutus, 
dashed from his fellow-citizens this unjust yoke of odious 
servitude; and though he was but a private man, he sus 
tained the government of the entire Commonwealth, and 
was the first that taught the people in this State that no 
one was a private man when the preservation of our liber 
ties was concerned. Beneath his authority and command 
our city rose against tyranny, and, stirred by the recent 


grief of the father and relatives of Lucretia, and with the 
recollections of Tarquin's haughtiness, and the numberless 
crimes of himself and his sons, they pronounced sentence 
of banishment against him and his children, and the whole 
race of the Tarquins. 

XXVI. Do you not observe, then, how the king some 
times degenerates into the despot, and how, by the fault 
of one individual, a form of government originally good is 
abused to the worst of purposes ? Here is a specimen of 
that despot over the people whom the Greeks denominate 
a tyrant. For, according to them, a king is he who, like a 
father, consults the interests of his people, and who pre 
serves those whom he is set over in the very best condi 
tion of life. This indeed is, as I have said, an excellent 
form of government, yet still liable, and, as it were, inclined, 
to a pernicious abuse. For as soon as a king assumes an 
unjust and despotic power, he instantly becomes a tyrant, 
than which nothing baser or foulei-, than which no imag 
inable animal can be more detestable to gods or men ; for 
though in form a man, he surpasses the most savage mon 
sters in ferocious cruelty. For who can justly call him a 
human being, who admits not between himself and his fel 
low-countrymen, between himself and the whole human 
race, any communication of justice, any association of 
kindness? But we shall find some fitter occasion of 
speaking of the evils of tyranny when the subject itself 
prompts us to declare against them who, even in a state 
already liberated, have affected these despotic insolencies. 

XXVII. Such is the first origin and rise of a tyrant. 
For this was the name by which the Greeks choose to des 
ignate an unjust king ; and by the title king our Romans 
universally understand every man who exercises over the 
people a perpetual and undivided domination. Thus Spu- 
rius Cassius, and Marcus Manlius, and Spurius Mselius, 
are said to have wished to seize upon the kingly power, 
and lately [Tiberius Gracchus incurred the same accusa 
tion]. 1 * * * 

XXVIII. * * * [Lycurgus, in Sparta, formed, under the 
name of Elders,] a small council consisting of twenty-eight 
members only; to these he allotted the supreme legislative 

1 Two pages are missing here. 


authority, while the king held the supreme executive au 
thority. Our Romans, emulating his example, and trans 
lating his terms, entitled those whom he had called Elders, 
Senators, which, as we have said, was done by Romulus in 
reference to the elect patricians. In this constitution, 
however, the power, the influence, and name of the king is 
still pre-eminent. You may distribute, indeed, some show 
of power to the people, as Lycurgus and Romulus did, 
but you inflame them with the thirst of liberty by allow 
ing them even the slightest taste of its sweetness ; and still 
their hearts will be overcast with alarm lest their king, as 
often happens, should become unjust. The prosperity of 
the people, therefore, can be little better than fragile, when 
placed at the disposal of any one individual, and subjected 
to his will and caprices. 

XXIX. Thus the first example, prototype, and original 
of tyranny has been discovered by us in the history of our 
own Roman State, religiously founded by Romulus, with 
out applying to the theoretical Commonwealth which, ac 
cording to Plato's recital, Socrates was accustomed to de 
scribe in his peripatetic dialogues. We have observed 
Tarquin, not by the usurpation of any new power, but by 
the unjust abuse of the power which he already possessed, 
overturn the whole system of our monarchical constitution. 

Let us oppose to this example of the tyrant another, a 
virtuous king wise, experienced, and well informed re 
specting the true interest and dignity of the citizens a 
guardian, as it were, and superintendent of the Common 
wealth ; for that is a proper name for every ruler and 
governor of a state. And take you care to recognize such 
a man when you meet him, for he is the man who, by coun 
sel and exertion, can best protect the nation. And as the 
name of this man has not yet been often mentioned in our 
discourse, and as the character of such a man must be of 
ten alluded to in our future conversations, [I shall take an 
early opportunity of describing it.] 1 * * * 

XXX. * * * [Plato has chosen to suppose a territory 
and establishments of citizens, whose fortunes] were pre 
cisely equal. And he has given us a description of a city, 
rather to be desired than expected ; and he has made out 

1 Here twelve pages are missing. 


not such a one as can really exist, but one in which the 
principles of political affairs may be discerned. But for 
me, if I can in any way accomplish it, while I adopt the 
same general principles as Plato, I am seeking to reduce 
them to experience and practice, not in the shadow and 
picture of a state, but in a real and actual Commonwealth, 
of unrivalled amplitude and power; in order to be able 
to point out, with the most graphic precision, the causes 
of every political good and social evil. 

For after Rome had flourished more than two hundred 
and forty years under her kings and interreges, and after 
Tarquin was sent into banishment, the Roman people con 
ceived as much detestation of the name of king as they 
had once experienced regret at the death, or rather dis 
appearance, of Romulus. Therefore, as in the first in 
stance they could hardly bear the idea of losing a king, 
so in the latter, after the expulsion of Tarquin, they could 
not endure to hear the name of a king. 1 * * * 

XXXI. * * * Therefore, when that admirable constitu 
tion of Romulus had lasted steadily about two hundred 
and forty years. * * * The whole of that law was abol 
ished. In this humor, our ancestors banished Cullatinus, 
in spite of his innocence, because of the suspicion that at 
tached to his family, and all the rest of the Tarquins, on 
account of the unpopularity of their name. In the same 
humor, Valerius Publicola was the first to lower the fasces 
before the people, when he spoke in the assembly of the 
people. He also had the materials of his house conveyed 
to the foot of Mount Velia, having observed that the com 
mencement of his edifice on the summit of this hill, where 
King Tullius had once dwelt, excited the suspicions of the 

It was the same man, who in this respect pre-eminently 
deserved the name of Publicola, who carried in favor of 
the people the first law received in the Comitia Centuriata, 
that no magistrate should sentence to death or scourging 
a Roman citizen who appealed from his authority to the 
people. And the pontifical books attest that the right of 
appeal had existed, even against the decision of the kings. 
Our augural books affirm the same thing. And the Twelve 
1 Sixteen pages are missing here. 


Tables prove, by a multitude of laws, that there was a right 
of appeal from every judgment and penalty. Besides, the 
historical fact that the decemviri who compiled the laws 
wore created with the privilege of judging without appeal, 
sufficiently proves that the other magistrates had not the 
same power. And a consular law, passed by Lucius Va 
lerius Politus and Marcus Horatius Barbatus, men justly 
popular for promoting union and concord, enacted that no 
magistrate should thenceforth be appointed with authority 
to judge without appeal; and the Portian laws, the work 
of three citizens of the name of Portius, as you are aware, 
added nothing new to this edict but a penal sanction. 

Therefore Publicola, having promulgated this law in fa 
vor of appeal to the people, immediately ordered the axes 
to be removed from the fasces, which the lictors carried 
before the consuls, and the next day appointed Spurius 
Lucretius for his colleague. And as the new consul was 
the oldest of the two, Publicola ordered his lictors to pass 
over to him ; and he was the first to establish the rule, 
that each of the consuls should be preceded by the lictors 
in alternate months, that there should be no greater ap 
pearance of imperial insignia among the free people than 
they had witnessed in the days of their kings. Thus, in 
my opinion, he proved himself no ordinary man, as, by so 
granting the people a moderate degree of liberty, he more 
easily maintained the authority of the nobles. 

Nor is it without reason that I have related to you these 
ancient and almost obsolete events; but I wished to ad 
duce my instances of men and circumstances from illustri 
ous persons and times, as it is to such events that the rest 
of my discourse will be directed. 

XXXII. At that period, then, the senate preserved the 
Commonwealth in such a condition that though the people 
were really free, yet few acts were passed by the people, 
but almost all, on the contrary, by the authority, customs, 
and traditions of the senate. And over all the consuls 
exercised a power in time, indeed, only annual, but in 
nature and prerogative completely royal. 

The consuls maintained, with the greatest energy, that 
rule which so much conduces to the power of our nobles 
and great men, that the acts of the commons of the people 



shall not be binding, unless the authority of the patricians 
has approved them. About the same period, and scarcely 
ten years after the first consuls, we find the appointment 
of the dictator in the person of Titus Lartius. And this 
new kind of power namely, the dictatorship appears 
exceedingly similar to the monarchical royalty. All his 
power, however, was vested in the supreme authority of 
the senate, to which the people deferred ; and in these 
times great exploits were performed in war by brave men 
invested with the supreme command, whether dictators or 

XXXIII. But as the nature of things necessarily 
brought it to pass that the people, once freed from its 
kings, should arrogate to itself more and more authority, 
we observe that after a short interval of only sixteen years, 
in the consulship of Postumus Cominius and Spurius Cas- 
sius, they attained their object ; an event explicable, per 
haps, on no distinct principle, but, nevertheless, in a man 
ner independent of any distinct principle. For recollect 
what I said in commencing our discourse, that if there ex 
ists not in the State a just distribution and subordination 
of rights, offices, and prerogatives, so as to give sufficient 
domination to the chiefs, sufficient authority to the coun 
sel of the senators, and sufficient liberty to the people, this 
form of the government cannot be durable. 

For when the excessive debts of the citizens had thrown 
the State into disorder, the people first retired to Mount 
Sacer, and next occupied Mount Aventine. And even the 
rigid discipline of Lycurgus could not maintain those re 
straints in the case of the Greeks. For in Sparta itself, 
under the reign of Theopompus, the five magistrates whom 
they term Ephori, and in Crete ten whom they entitle Cos- 
mi, were established in opposition to the royal power, just 
as tribunes were added among us to counterbalance the 
consular authority. 

XXXIV. There might have been a method, indeed, by 
which our ancestors could have been relieved from the 
pressure of debt, a method with which Solon the Athenian, 
who lived at no very distant period before, was acquaint 
ed, and which our senate did not neglect when, in the in 
dignation which the odious avarice of one individual ex- 


cited, all the bonds of the citizens were cancelled, and the 
right of arrest for a while suspended. In the same way, 
when the plebeians were oppressed by the weight of tho 
expenses occasioned by public misfortunes, a cure and 
remedy were sought for the sake of public security. Tho 
senate, however, having forgotten their former decision, 
gave an advantage to the democracy ; for, by the creation 
of two tribunes to appease the sedition of the people, the 
power and authority of the senate were diminished ; which, 
however, still remained dignified and august, inasmuch as 
it was still composed of the wisest and bravest men, who 
protected their country both with their arms and with 
their counsels ; whose authority was exceedingly strong 
and flourishing, because in honor they were as much before 
their fellow-citizens as they were inferior in luxuriousness, 
and, as a general rule, not superior to them in wealth. And 
their public virtues were the more agreeable to the people, 
because even in private matters they were ready to serve 
every citizen, by their exertions, their counsels, and their 

XXXV. Such was the situation of the Commonwealth 
when the quaestor impeached Spurius Cassius of being so 
much emboldened by the excessive favor of the people as 
to endeavor to make himself master of monarchical power. 
And, as you have heard, his own father, having said that 
he had found that his son was really guilty of this crime, 
condemned him to death at the instance of the people. 
About fifty -four years after the first consulate, Spurius 
Tarpeius and Aulus Aternius very much gratified the peo 
ple by proposing, in the Comitia Centuriata, the substi 
tution of fines instead of corporal punishments. Twenty 
years afterward, Lucius Papirius and Publius Pinarius, the 
censors, having by a strict levy of fines confiscated to the 
State the entire flocks and herds of many private individ 
uals, a light tax on the cattle was substituted for the law 
of fines in the consulship of Caius Julius and Publius Pa 

XXXVI. But, some years previous to this, at a period 
when the senate possessed the supreme influence, and the 
people were submissive and obedient, a new system was 
adopted. At that time both the consuls and tribunes of 


the people abdicated their magistracies, and the decemviri 
were appointed, who were invested with great authority, 
from which thei'e was no appeal whatever, so as to exercise 
the chief domination, and to compile the laws. After hav 
ing composed, with much wisdom and equity, the Ten Ta 
bles of laws, they nominated as their successors in the en 
suing year other decemviri, whose good faith and justice 
do not deserve equal praise. One member of this college, 
however, merits our highest commendation. I allude to 
Caius Julius, who declared respecting the nobleman Lucius 
Sestius, in whose chamber a dead body had been exhumed 
under his own eyes, that though as decemvir he held the 
highest power without appeal, he still required bail, be 
cause he was unwilling to neglect that admirable law which 
permitted no court but the Comitia Centuriata to pro 
nounce final sentence on the life of a Roman citizen. 

XXXVII. A third year followed under the authority of 
the same decemvirs, and still they were not disposed to ap 
point their successors. In a situation of the Common 
wealth like this, which, as I have often repeated, could not 
be durable, because it had not an equal operation with re 
spect to all the ranks of the citizens, the whole public pow 
er was lodged in the hands of the chiefs and decemvirs of 
the highest nobility, without the counterbalancing author 
ity of the tribunes of the people, without the sanction of 
any other magistracies, and without appeal to the people 
in the case of a sentence of death or scourging. 

Thus, out of the injustice of these men, there was sud 
denly produced a great revolution, which changed the en 
tire condition of the government, or they added two ta 
bles of very tyrannical laws, and though matrimonial alli 
ances had always been permitted, even with foreigners, 
they forbade, by the most abominable and inhuman edict, 
that any marriages should take place between the nobles 
and the commons an order which was afterward abrogat 
ed by the decree of Canuleius. Besides, they introduced 
into all their political measures corruption, cruelty, and 
avarice. And indeed the story is well known, and cele 
brated in many literary compositions, that a certain Deci- 
rnus Virginius was obliged, on account of the libidinous 
violence of one of these decemvirs, to stab his virgin daugh- 


ter in the midst of the fornm. Then, when he in his des 
peration had fled to the Roman army which was encamp 
ed on Mount Algidurn, the soldiers abandoned the war in 
which they were engaged, and took possession of the Sa 
cred Mount, as they had done before on a similar occasion, 
and next invested Mount Aventine in their arms. 1 Our 
ancestors knew how to prove most thoroughly, and to re 
tain most wisely. * * * 

XXXVIII. And when Scipiohad spoken in this manner, 
and all his friends were awaiting in silence the rest of his 
discourse, then said Tubero : Since these men who are old 
er than I, my Scipio, make no fresh demands on you, I 
shall take the liberty to tell you what I particularly wish 
you would explain in your subsequent remarks. 

Do so, said Scipio, and I shall be glad to hear. 

Then Tubero said : Yon appear to me to have spoken 
a panegyric on our Commonwealth of Rome exclusively, 
though Laelius requested your views not only of the gov 
ernment of our own State, but of the policy of states in 
general. I have not, therefore, yet sufficiently learned from 
your discourse, with respect to that mixed form of gov 
ernment you most approve, by what discipline, moral and 
legal, we may be best able to establish and maintain it. 

XXXIX. Africanus replied : I think that we shall soon 
find an occasion better adapted to the discussion you have 
proposed, respecting the constitution and conservatism of 
states. As to the best form of government, I think on 
this point I have sufficiently answered the question of 
Laslius. For in answering him, I, in the first place, spe 
cifically noticed the three simple forms of government 
monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy ; and the three vi 
cious constitutions contrary to them, into which they often 
degenerate ; and I said that none of these forms, taken 
separately, was absolutely good ; but I described as pref 
erable to either of them that mixed government which is 
composed of a proper amalgamation of these simple ingre 
dients. If I have since depicted our own Roman consti 
tution as an example, it was not in order to define the very 
best form of government, for that may be understood 
without an example ; but I wished, in the exhibition of a 

1 Here eight pages are missing. 


mighty commonwealth actually in existence, to render dis 
tinct and visible what reason and discourse would vainly 
attempt to display without the assistance of experimental 
illustration. Yet, if you still require me to describe the 
best form of government, independent of all particular 
examples, we must consult that exactly proportioned and 
graduated image of government which nature herself pre 
sents to her investigators. Since you * * * this model of 
a city and people 1 * * * 

XL. * * * which I also am searching for, and which I 
am anxious to arrive at. 

Lcelius. You mean the model that would be approved 
by the truly accomplished politician ? 

Scipio. The same. 

Lcelius. You have plenty of fair patterns even now be 
fore you, if you would but begin with yourself. 

Then Scipio said: I wish I could find even one such, 
even in the entire senate. For he is really a wise politi 
cian who, as we have often seen in Africa, while seated on 
a huge and unsightly elephant, can guide and rule the 
monster, and turn him whichever way he likes by a slight 
admonition, without any actual exertion. 

Lcelius. I recollect, and when I was your lieutenant I 
often saw, one of these drivers. 

Scipio. Thus an Indian or Carthaginian regulates one 
of these huge animals, and renders him docile and familiar 
with human manners. But the genius which resides in 
the mind of man, by whatever name it may be called, is 
required to rein and tame a monster far more multiform 
and intractable, whenever it can accomplish it, which in 
deed is seldom. It is necessary to hold in with a strong 
hand that ferocious 5 * * * 

XLI. * * * [beast, denominated the mob, which thirsts 
after blood] to such a degree that it can scarcely be sated 
with the most hideous massacres of men. * * * 

But to a man who is greedy, and grasping, and lustful, and fond of 
wallowing in voluptuousness. 

1 A great many pages are missing here. 

9 Several pages are lost